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.
Our Founders supplied us with Amendment IX:"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. "
There's an entire amendment, one tenth of the Bill of Rights, insisting that you do not do what your are doing; that is, claim that there is any significance to the ommission or non-enumeration of a right.
I suggest you refer to Amendment XIX. There you will find pretty convincing evidence that at one time the nation operated under the principle that a substance could not be outlawed by the federal government without a provision of the Constitution permitting it to do so. What changed? It was not the Constitution. It is the people who refuse to use it.
Billions of our dollars are wasted each year on this,... anobectivist
billions of dollars are spent on controlling americans because of the war on drugs... continuing the prohibition allows for the prohibition of certain freedoms detrimental to big governments goals.
so far so good... you are winning and they are losing...
they will inevitably see the error of their socialistic tendancies.
Bingo, and they don't even see it. I am always very optimistic about America, but I am bothered by this and the reactions from many FReepers.
"There you will find pretty convincing evidence that at one time the nation operated under the principle that a substance could not be outlawed by the federal government without a provision of the Constitution permitting it to do so."
Sure they could. But the temperence reformers wanted a more durable amendment, rather than simply a statute.
You could save us some time if you clarified your own opinion here. The WOSD proves that they COULD. That there is no marijuana commerce possible that is not interstate commerce is ridiculous. It suggests that there is no commerce that is not interstate commerce.
I claim that the federal government SHOULD NOT involve itself in the control of drugs which cannot be proven to move in interstate commerce. I claim that there is no enumerated power which justifies what they are doing.
Other posters who claim that we don't want to be like countries which have legalized drugs because then our parks would be filled with drug users have obviously not visited Golden Gate Park in San Francisco recently. The place is effectively OWNED by druggies and other jobless elements.
In another post you stated: "You give me the moral, responsible society that we had back in 1776, and I'll vote for any drug law you want."
The only reason we don't have the moral, responsible society of 1776 is because we don't insist on it. We don't insist that people use firearms responsibly. Instead, there are attempts to disarm. We don't insist that people ingest substances responsibly. Instead, we criminalize possession and provide "treatment". We don't insist that eight-year-old school boys use pocket knives responsibly, as was done when I was eight. Instead, we exercise "zero tolerance" to suspend students for possession of a butter spatula simply because it is commonly called a "knife".
We are raising generation after generation of people who are not allowed to exercise responsible judgement and then some decry their lack of responsibility.
The association of guns and drugs in advertising is not new, nor accidental. The underlying concept is one of drug crazed maniacs wielding guns coming to a neighborhood near you--and no one is safe.
That is the fulcrum (safety) by which the lever of such propaganda is applied to even the most conservative psyche: drug related gang war, drug related killing, drug related crime...no one is safe.
While many would concede that the drug war is an abject failure, (something I will not), the inevitable answer to fighting that war more effectively has been a continuing erosion of the rights of all against unreasonable search and siezure, not just in the venue of controlled substances, but in the realm of firearms as well.
The concept has crept into the groupthink that some drugs are all right for personal self-medication, but others are too dangerous to allow the general public to use unsupervised, if at all. That same concept is being used to promote the ban of certain types of firearm, just substitute "guns" for "drugs" in the previous statement.
There are salient differences between the two.
First, people have used firearms on a daily basis and suffered no ill effects, even after many years.
Second, although a definite firearm enthusiast, I cannot honestly say I know anyone "addicted" to firearms. The physical dependency is not there.
No one is knocking over liquor stores to get their next box of .22s.
Babies born to households under the "influence of firearms" but where illicit drug use is absent seldom suffer birth defects at any rate greater than that of the general population, and are no more likely than the general population to be abused, neglected, or slain in acts of senseless violence, perhaps less so.
It would be disingenous to attempt to say the same of households where the parent(s) are drug addicts, even in the absence of firearms.
As for cheaper drugs, there is no guarantee that this would happen. When alcohol use was relieved of prohibition, alcoholic beverages were taxed. It would be highly uncharacteristic of Governmnet to ignore such a source of revenue, and while the result might be cheaper drugs, it is unlikely that prices would ever approach "cost".
If you advocate "state supplied" drugs, you are advocating my tax dollar supporting other people's bad habits, something I am as likely to condone as the average non-smoker would condone the Government picking up the tab for my La Gloria Cubanas.
It already galls me to be paying for "treatment" programs which have recidivism rates as high as 90+%.
While there is no easy solution, I cannot agree with the use of hyperbole to promote the "anything goes" approach to fighting the uncontrolled distribution and use of dangerous drugs. "No knock" dynamic entry, warrantless searches, the use of paid informants, and the erosion of due process all belie an increasing laziness on the part of law enforcement which used to rely on good police work. We have become so inured to such tactics that we have cast aside Constitutional protections on the false altar of "effectiveness", much as we have given up the ability to carry so much a a fingernail clipper on an airplane: all offerings to the false god of "Safety".
You mention compelling social interest, and aside from the public safety, there would be none if the Government had not already made its collectivist inroads into the family, making what would have been personal tragedies the collective responsibility (in financial terms) of the general public through welfare programs and taxation.
SO what's a mutha to do? For those who want to consume certain drugs of choice, licensure?
"Sign here, kid, you know you can get the buzz you want, but you will never drive the bus, the plane, the train, or hold public office. You forfeit your right to own a firearm, to hunt, or operate a motor vehicle. You may not work as a fireman, a policeman, a soldier, or in the medical profession. Forget being a cowboy, High on the Range was just a movie. If you ever wish to have children, you must test 'clean' on every random test for a period of 5 years, and are subject to genetic screening prior to reproductive approval. Just sign here, on line 3, 27, and 42, produce ID, and press hard, you are making several coppies...."
One last point, and I'll get off the page. Just because something was legal is not necessarily a good argument for making it legal again. Slavery was legal for nearly a hundred years after the Declaration of Independance was signed, and few would advocate its return.
THere would always be that contingent who would conceal their drug use, and thus, the underground market would remain, even if substantially diminished.
While I agree with much of your sentiment, the program is all carrot and no stick.
Add in execution for drug traffickers and addicts/users who try to subvert the system and it might be more effective. Harsh, you might say, but definite incentive to go with the program or not go at all.
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.
The logical core of the article. --- Prohibitional power has never been granted to any level of government, federal/state or local.
Governments are limited to legally 'reasonable' regulatory powers by the basic principles of our constitution.
posted at #6
What I meant was that Congress could have banned alcohol without an amendment.
"I claim that there is no enumerated power which justifies what they are doing."
You of course agree that Congress does indeed have the power to regulate the interstate commerce of drugs? Well, that's all they're doing.
Now, in order to effectively regulate that interstate commerce, Congress uses the Necessary and Proper Clause (In Article I, Section 8) to write laws which control anything that has a substantial effect on their interstate regulatory efforts.
You don't like that. You say Congress shouldn't/can't do that. Well, what if Congress didn't?
Well, that would allow states and individuals to undermine and subvert Congress' legitimate interstate regulatory efforts. If that's what the Founding Fathers intended, then why give the commerce clause power to Congress to begin with?
Maybe Congress shouldn't regulate drugs. Maybe that should be left to the states to decide. Fine. Pass an amendment, similar in wording to the 21st amendment, just as we did with alcohol, removing that power from the federal government and returning it exclusively to the states.
"We are raising generation after generation of people who are not allowed to exercise responsible judgement and then some decry their lack of responsibility."
Keep in mind that the irresponsible behavior came first. Nobody's going to pass a law against cellphone use in the car until enough irresponsible people cause enough accidents. Then the law will pass.
The first laws against drugs were passed because there were problems associated with those drugs. Be it opium or heroin or morphine or cocaine or elixirs ... or marijuana.
I was saying the same thing here:
Be Ever Vigilant!
Too bad tpaine was bounced.
I don't agree that there is no such thing as NON interstate commerce in drugs or any other commodity. Please explain how there is any limit whatever to claims of federal jurisdiction over all trade given the decision that there can be no NON interstate commerce in some drugs?
So, you don't get it. I guess it doesn't make you a bad person. Just less of an American than the Founders were hoping for. Buckle up, and Don't forget your helmet.
Oh I get it -- I simply don't believe it.
"Just less of an American"
You're the one who doesn't support the U.S. Constitution, and I'm less of an American? That's rich.
The USSC has ruled the Controlled Substances Act constitutional. Is the Court wrong?
"Buckle up, and Don't forget your helmet."
If I'm forced to pay for the health care of those involved in traffic accidents, then excuse me if I try to minimize my costs. If these idiots had their own insurance, they could ride naked for all I care.
I've no problem with harsh measures for those who choose to remain underground. My only concern, as I'm certain you recognize, is for those who haven't been lured into the drug culture or those who are victimized to support an addict's habit.
Likewise, the recent Patriot Act extensions and Senate approval to make them permanent..
This is all tying in together..
Border control.. = National ID cards..
Why is it that government says we can't control Illegal immigration?? Insufficient paperwork..
Solution?? National ID cards..( conforming to International ID card standards ) DNA testing.. etc...
Although the obvious solution of More border guards, use of the military to guard the borders, hiring of more INS employees and rigorous enforcement of existing immigration law, are typically ignored..
Why use existing law, when a new law can be created, further restricting citizen's rights??
Historically, the several states began instituting protective tariffs and excise taxes on products entering their state in order to protect local producers..
The commerce clause was instituted to end such practices, and allow "free trade" without restriction or protectionism..