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Wednesday, August 18, 2004

War on Terror and Gun Control

Benedict LaRosa, a historian, writer and policy advisor to The Future of Freedom Foundation, offers an interesting view on the effects of gun control on our ability to defend ourselves against the terrorist attacks. I am not as much of a gun rights supporter as Mr LaRosa,- I believe, for instance, that weapons must be registered and only issued to those who are qualified to use them,- however, I support many ideas of his. For instance, the notion of point defense versus area defense, the former being far more effective against an elusive enemy such as a team of terrorists certainly appeals to me.

It is certainly a good idea to have armed militias. That allows citizens to be able to actively participate in defending their communities, from all those who threaten it,- be they local criminal gangs or terror groups. As LaRosa puts it,
Instead of hamstringing people with a myriad of gun-control measures, governments at all levels should encourage them to arm and train themselves. Funds for homeland security would thus be better spent, American military and security forces relieved of an impossible task, and homeland security enhanced.
He also makes good sense when he says:
If citizens were free to procure whatever firearms they desired without interference from government, as they should be, then the owners and occupiers of homes and businesses could provide their own high level of security using whatever weapons they considered appropriate, such as submachine guns. Government forces could then concentrate their limited resources in manpower, funds, and equipment to seek out and destroy the terrorists without having to worry about guarding every possible static structure a terrorist might attack.
I certainly have some reservations about combat weapons such as submachine guns or machine guns being readily available,- I think people need to first be trained to use them. However, those trained and organized in a militia should be able to have them,- after all, they do have a vested interest in protecting their property and lives of their family, friends and co-workers, and there is no way police forces can be everywhere at all times.

I both enjoy weapons and fear them. But the fact of life is that there are situations when one needs a weapon for defense, and that is especially true when the threat comes not from a mugger who is likely to merely use his weapon to intimidate you, but from a terrorist who is trying to kill as many people as possible. The potential victims of terror have a stark choice,- to die or to fight back. Personally, I favor the latter.

As the saying goes, "When guns are outlawed, only outlaws have guns". That seems true,- and that is not how things ought to be. The good guys should have guns too,- let's keep the outlaws guessing which one of their victims is about to be a nasty surprise for them.


Anonymous said...

Hey Dikaysobaka,
I disagree with you on this. I think such sentiments go against the core understanding of what a modern state is. In a really good state,
the state defends individual, nobody needs a gun. Does one need a gun in Sweden? - I doubt so.
"When guns are outlawed, only outlaws have guns" - fine! - so having a gun would be a crime itself. He, who has a gun, should be fined,
or imprisoned, depends on situation.
In Arab countries, every adult man has a gun. Do they feel safe? Ask my friends in Lebanon...

Boris Epstein said...


You've got some good points here. However, I never said that gun ownership is the only thing required for social order and crime prevention and prosecution. I agree with you that a modern state should strive to protect all of its citizens. It has never succeeded in that quest 100%, nor do I expect it too any time soon anywhere on the planet.

I think the problem in Lebanon has less to do with wide-spread gun ownership than with the fact that the state power is weak and corrupt there. Correct me if I am wrong on that, as I assume you are an Arab you probably at least speak the language (I don't know whether you are Lebanese yourself or not) and thus have a better understanding of that country than I do, but it appears to me that with the Syrian troops and Hizbullah operating inside Lebanon almost independently of the official Lebanese authorities, the power structure these is extremely weak and disorganized, to say the least.

Now, there are countries where gun ownership is wide-spread and the crime rate is low. Switzerland would be a good example.

Personally, I mostly agree with the arguments origiannly used here in the US to back the Second Amendment (the one authorizing weapon ownership). The amendment was designed to keep the populace armed and capable of defending themselves against all enemies foreign and domestic. That includes many groups of enemies,- foreign assailants, including foreign terrorists, domestic criminals, domestic terrorists, as well as rogue officials who have broken their oath of office and decided to use their position to oppress, rob or terrorize their own people.


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