Gun control

Gun control
: As the war was underway and we heard reports that Saddam had handed out AK47s to his people like Bush hands out tax cuts, I emailed a gun-control opponent I know (and like anyway) and asked what his position was going to be about gun control in Iraq. Never got an answer. But I could have guessed the stance we’d start hearing. And here it is, in an email and post from Del Simmons, a commenter here:

I am very saddened by the news that we are about to try to disarm the law abiding citizens of Iraq. It’s a terrible idea, and once you think about it, I bet you’ll agree.

Uh, sorry, but no.

The right to bear arms is not unlimited and not universal and certainly not God-given. This is Iraq, where there are no laws to abide by right now. This is a war zone. We’re getting crap for not cracking down on lawlessness. So crack, we will. But we don’t need any Joe, Harry, or Mahmoud pointing a machine gun at our soldiers.

Here’s what’s happening:

Iraqi citizens will be required to turn over automatic weapons and heavy weapons under a proclamation that allied authorities plan to issue this week, allied officials said Tuesday.

The aim of the proclamation is to help stabilize Iraq by confiscating the huge supply of AK-47s, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons that are used by criminal gangs, paramilitary groups and remnants of the Saddam Hussein government.

And while we’re at it, we’ll have them hand over any WMDs they happen to have in the basement.

  • You miss my point, Jeff. If the people worth worrying about , i.e., those who point their weapons at our soldiers, were actually going to be giving up any weapons, then this might be a good idea. But the cold hard fact is that these people will not be the ones to give up anything.
    It’s only the people who are willing to work with us, be definition, that will be giving up anything. The people that we need to be concerned about will just be more able to bully the good people because they will still have their AK47’s and the good people won’t.
    Let’s not forget all the Iraqi soldiers who only have that Army issued AK47 and no other arms. Are they to be expected to give up their only firearm? It’s not like thay have the resources to go replace it with a smaller arm. They’re not even getting paid right now.
    I never said, nor do I believe, that the right to bear arms is unlimited or universal. God given? Well, yes, I do believe that the creator endows us with the right to defend ourselves, regardless of your political or religious pursuasion. But that is a debate for another day.
    Also, I clearly stated that I would support the US military disarming, arresting and detaining any “Joe, Harry, or Mahmoud pointing a machine gun at our soldiers”. So please don’t misquote me.
    My point is that the citizens who will be willing to turn over weapons just because we proclaim for them to do so are precisely the type of citizens we should be arming, not disarming. They are the good guys. Otherwise they wouldn’t give a rat’s ass about our proclomations.
    “Criminal gangs, paramilitary groups, and the remnants of Saddam Hussein’s government” certainly should be disarmed, but this proclamation isn’t going to do that. It’s going to disarm everyone else.

  • Well, one of my co-writers at has posted what he considers a nice compromise approach on this issue. I’d love to hear your opinion on it, Jeff..

  • The problem with the idea is the same problem faced by gun control plans in North America – the bad guys will not turn in their weapons.
    The U.S. has been unable to curb violence, looting, destruction of private or public property, and a growing gang problem in Iraq – in some places entire villages are being destroyed because there is not central authority or control.
    I think if I was there I’d think twice about turning in any firearms I owned, at least until the U.S. military made some progress in keeping the peace.

  • Thanks, stageleft! That is my whole point! If everyone would actually turn in their weapons just because we decreed it then maybe the idea would have some merit. But gun control, by definition, will only get guns out of the hands of people who actually follow the rules. The people we are worried about are not the ones who follow the rules.
    Not to mention the fact that I don’t want our GI’s trying to go into hostile homes and remove their weapons. That sounds like a way for a lot of our soldiers to get killed.
    There is nothing wrong with providing a way for peace loving Iraqis to turn in extra arms, but demanding that they do so is a mistake, in my opinion.

  • I have to admit to you all, however, that I actually started to write a story justifying my initial support for this move by our government. It was in direct contrast to the other story I had just posted about the importance of an armed populace. I was about to write, “Of course we have to disarm them! This is Iraq! Those people are all crazy!”
    But then, as I tried to justify the contradiction in my own mind, I realized that the average law abiding person in Iraq MUST be allowed to defend themselves and their family against the bands of armed thugs roaming the crazy streets. A hand-gun isn’t going to cut it in Iraq right now.
    The people who helped us in this war, from the inside of Iraq, must be able to protect themselves from the bands of Baathists roaming the street looking for “traitors”.
    The gut reaction, even for a 2nd supporter like myself, is that we must disarm these people to protect our troops. But the truth, after you consider the facts of gun control, is just the opposite. The fact that I was so conflicted myself is why I am trying so hard to spread the word that this issue needs deeper consideration. Everyone out there will dismiss it off hand, like Jeff did, without thinking deep enough to see all the issues. I don’t fault Jeff at all for that, as I did the exact same thing.
    Please help me spread the word! This is going to be a huge mistake!

  • They’re automatic rifles!! They’ve been outlawed in the US for nearly 70 years! There is no good reason for someone to own an AK-47 or worse. I’m sure they have plenty of pistols and whatnot to use.

  • Lord Ben, nobody is saying AK 47’s should be allowed in the US. I hope that is not what you are implying.
    All I said is that Iraqis should be allowed to keep their AK47’s at this time. Iraq is awash in them now and a “pistol and whatnot” will not protect the good guys from a bad guy with an AK47.. Would you not agree?

  • Poot Rootbeer

    Del… let’s say that in Iraq a bad guy has a pistol and a good guy has an AK-47.
    While the good guy is sleeping, the bad guy sneaks into him home, murders him, and takes the AK.
    Now the bad guy is capable of being a lot worse.
    I’m a fence-sitter on the topic of gun control, but I do believe that there’s no reason for anyone to own a functional assault rifle unless it’s under the auspices of a legitimate military or peacekeeping force. The more of them are out there in regular people’s hands (people who may have little if any training in gun safety), the less safe I would feel.

  • Jeremy

    If Iraq is anything like the US, then a bad guy doesn’t need to break into someones house to buy an AK-47. A high quality pistol would probably cost more on the black market than a AK-47.
    Anyway, I can see outlawing things like RPGs and heavy weapons, but assault rifles are pretty tame. And I would much rather have our troops face people with those than with things like sniper rifles.

  • Robin Roberts

    Actually, this “gun control” in Iraq is less repressive than the laws in half of the United States. In other words, the US Army is granting Iraqis more freedom to bear arms than most US state and federal govts.

  • Philby

    I still dont get it! What is this American bullshit about the right to have firearms? Turn it around full circle and accept that the only people who are ALLOWED to have firearms are police and the military – everyone else – zero tolerance.
    Guns are for killing people – nothing less.
    You dont need them.

  • Kent

    When the only organizations that are allowed to have weapons are military or police forces, that country (wether the US or not) is subject to the whims of said organization. You can bet on the fact that Saddam did not allow anyone but Baathist party members, Fedayeen(sp?), or the military to have firearms.
    A dictator’s first step in securing his power is to disarm the populace. And I for one hope that the someone points that out to President Bush. The comparision might make him change his mind.