Skip to comments.Connecting the War on Guns & Drugs [my title]
Posted on 01/11/2003 10:15:11 AM PST by tpaine
Ms. Nancy Snell Swickard - Publisher Shotgun News P. O. Box 669, Hastings, NE 68902
Dear Ms. Swickard,
I was very distressed to see the remark of one of your subscribers which you quoted on page 8 of your October 1 (1996) issue. The support of the "Drug War" by anyone who values the 2nd Amendment, and the rest of the Bill of Rights, is the most dangerous error of thinking in the politics of the "gun control" debate. This error is extremely widespread, although there have been some recent signs that some Americans are seeing through the propaganda of the Drug Warriors which affects all levels of our society.
Sadly, major players in the defense of the 2nd Amendment (like the NRA) show no signs of awareness of the part played by the Drug War in our present hysteria over violence. This is a serious error, because the violence produced by the Drug War is one of the main reasons that a majority of American citizens support gun control. Without the majority of a citizenry frightened by endemic violence, Mr. Clinton and his allies in the Congress would not enjoy the power they now possess to attack the Bill of Rights.
To understand the effect of the Drug War, we must understand it for what it is: the second Prohibition in America in this Century. I do not need to remind anyone who knows our recent history what a disaster the first Prohibition was. It is a classic example of the attempt to control a vice--drunkenness--by police power. It made all use of alcohol a case of abuse. It produced such an intense wave of violence that it gave a name--The Roaring Twenties--to an entire decade. It lead to the establishment of powerful criminal empires, to widespread corruption in police and government, and to a surge of violence and gunfire all over the land. And it produced a powerful attack on the Bill of Rights, including the most successful campaign of gun control laws in America up to that time.
Before the first Prohibition criminalized the trade in alcohol, liquor dealers were ordinary businessmen; after 1920 they were all violent criminals fighting for their territories. We had gang wars, and drive-by shootings, and the use of machine guns by criminals.
We now have the same effects of the first Prohibition in the present Drug War, and Americans appear to be sleepwalking through it with no apparent understanding of what is happening. It is testimony to the truth of Santayana's famous remark that those who do not know history are condemned to repeat it. We must understand that this has all happened before, and for the same reasons.
It is essential that defenders of the 2nd Amendment understand that the whole Bill of Rights is under attack by the Drug War, and that assaults on the 2nd Amendment are a natural part of that trend. What is the main premise of a gun-control law? It is that guns are implements which are too dangerous to entrust to the citizenry. What is the main premise of Drug Prohibition? It is that drugs are substances which are too dangerous to entrust to the citizenry. Both lines of reasoning say that because a few people abuse something, all Americans must be treated like children or irresponsibles. All use is abuse.
This is an extremely dangerous idea for a government, and it leads inevitably to tyranny. It is a natural consequence that such thinking will lead to attacks on the Bill of Rights, because that is the chief defense in the Constitution against abuses of government power.
Since the beginning of the Drug War, no article of the Bill of Rights has been spared from attack. There has been an enormous increase in police power in America, with a steady erosion of protections against unreasonable search and seizure, violations of privacy, confiscation of property, and freedom of speech. We have encouraged children to inform on their parents and we tolerate urine tests as a condition of employment for anyone. All who question the wisdom of Drug Prohibition are immediately attacked and silenced. These are all violations of the Bill of Rights. Are we surprised when the 2nd Amendment is attacked along with the others?
We understand that opponents of the 2nd Amendment exaggerate the dangers of firearms and extrapolate the actions of deranged persons and criminals to all gun owners. That is their method of propaganda. Do we also know that Drug Warriors exaggerate the hazards of drug use--"all use is abuse'--in the same way formerly done with alcohol, and extrapolate the condition of addicts to all users of drugs? That is their method of propaganda. Most Americans are convinced by both arguments, and both arguments depend on the public's ignorance. That is why discussion and dissent is inhibited.
Most Americans are moving to the idea that drugs and guns are evil and should be prohibited. Encouraging one way of thinking supports the other because the logic of the arguments is the same.
Why not prohibit a dangerous evil? If every drinker is a potential alcoholic, every drug-user a future addict, and every gun-owner a potential killer, why not ban them all? There is no defense against this logic except to challenge the lies that sit at the root of the arguments. Those are the lies promoted by the prevailing propaganda in support of all Prohibition. We cannot oppose one and support the other. To do so undermines our efforts because all these movements walk on the same legs.
If we do not explain to people that the fusillade of gunfire in America, the return to drive-by shooting, and our bulging prisons, come from the criminalizing of commerce in illegal drugs, we cannot expect them to listen to a plea that we must tolerate some risk in defense of liberty.
Why should we tolerate, for the sake of liberty, the risk of a maniac shooting a dozen people, when we cannot tolerate the risk that a drug-user will become an addict?
In fact, very few gun-owners are mass murderers and a minority of drug-users are addicts, but people are easily persuaded otherwise and easily driven to hysteria by exaggerating dangers. What addict would be a violent criminal if he could buy his drug from a pharmacy for its real price instead of being driven to the inflated price of a drug smuggler? How many cigarette smokers would become burglars or prostitutes if their habits cost them $200 per day? How many criminal drug empires could exist if addicts could buy a drug for its real cost? And, without Prohibition, what smuggler's territory would be worth a gang war? And why isn't this obvious to all of us?
It is because both guns and drugs have become fetishes to some people in America. They blame guns and drugs for all the intractable ills of society, and they never rest until they persuade the rest of us to share their deranged view of the evil power in an inanimate object.
They succeed, mainly, by lies and deception. They succeed by inducing the immediate experience of anxiety and horror by the mere mention of the words: Guns! Drugs! Notice your reactions. Once that response is in place, it is enough to make us accept any remedy they propose. An anxious person is an easy mark. They even persuade us to diminish the most precious possession of Americans, the one marveled at by every visitor and cherished by every immigrant, and the name of which is stamped on every coin we mint--Liberty. They say that liberty is just too dangerous or too expensive. They say we will have to do with less of it for our own good. That is the price they charge for their promise of our security.
The Dutch have exchanged the drug war and all it's problems and expense for a littering problem in a small defined area. Good trade.
Backwards. The courts have rejected the inane equation of the right to keep and bear arms with the "right" to smoke dope.
It is therefore not surprising that every court that has considered the question, both before and after the Supreme Court's decision in Lopez, has concluded that section 841(a)(1) represents a valid exercise of the commerce power. See, e.g., United States v. Edwards, ___ F.3d ___, ___, 1996 WL 621913, at *5 (D.C. Cir. Oct. 29, 1996); United States v. Kim, 94 F.3d 1247, 1249-50 (9th Cir. 1996); United States v. Bell, 90 F.3d 318, 321 (8th Cir. 1996); United States v. Lerebours, 87 F.3d 582, 584-85 (1st Cir. 1996); United States v. Wacker, 72 F.3d 1453, 1475 (10th Cir. 1995), cert. denied, 117 S. Ct. 136 (1996); United States v. Leshuk, 65 F.3d 1105, 1111-12 (4th Cir. 1995); United States v. Scales, 464 F.2d 371, 375 (6th Cir. 1972); Lopez, 459 F.2d at 953.
Proyect attempts to distinguish this body of authority by arguing that, while growing marijuana for distribution has a significant impact on interstate commerce, growing marijuana only for personal consumption does not. Despite the fact that he was convicted of growing more than 100 marijuana plants, making it very unlikely that he personally intended to consume all of his crop, Proyect contends that no one may be convicted under a statute that fails to distinguish between the cultivation of marijuana for distribution and the cultivation of marijuana for personal consumption. This contention is without merit.
The right to defend yourself from thugs who would deny your right to pursue happiness is the reason it was enumerated in the bill of rights.
Not that you care.
Curious that no one even dared ask the question prior to 1937. This is the same reasoning that concludes that domestic violence is a federal matter, and federal laws concerning it are a valid exercise of the commerce power.
Not equating the right to keep and bear arms with doing drugs is "the same reasoning that concludes that domestic violence is a federal matter?"
I wish I could say I thought you were wrong, but I cannot. Considering recent developments with regard to tobacco and fatty foods, such as McDonald's hamburgers, I can't disagree with your post. I'm a bit of a cynic, but I saw the "War on Fat" coming a mile off. When the large tobacco lawsuits first came on the scene, I told some friend's of mine that junk food was next. They scoffed, saying that no one could put fast food in the same category as an addictive drug such as nicotine. I'm sad to say that I was right.
Ok. What specifically should I refute? The linchpin is a statement that the vegetative products they refer to are a threat to the publics health and welfare? There is no evidence of that, and they present none. Give me something to reute and I will.
I will acknowledge that the rationalization you published exists.
You don't know much about the state's police powers, do you? Read the Slaughterhouse Cases (83 US 36). It's probably the most comprehensive source.