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Friday, January 20, 2006

Decisive Action At Home And Abroad
I'm not an anti-gun fanatic. That's probably because I've grown up in an area in which most households contained at least one hunter and at least one high-powered rifle of some sort, but it's probably also because I know that not every person who can get hold of a weapon is going to go on a spree.

That's not to say I support the unchecked gun ownership espoused by certain Not Reasonable Advocates of so-called "gun rights." I've never heard a convincing reason for the guy on the corner to own an AK-47 with a 100-round clip full of Black Talon cop-killer bullets, unless he's hunting a really well-armed deer.

I don't really buy the argument that guns are to protect us from the government, either. That may have worked when cutting-edge weapons technology was a horse-drawn cannon or a flintlock musket requiring thirty seconds or so to load and fire, but it doesn't apply to store-bought automatic weapons that fire thirty projectiles per second.

The best a freedom-loving citizen could hope to accomplish today is a Randy Weaver-esque defense, and I must confess that I'd love to see how the Rightwing punditry would spin that episode (since it's still a favorite stomping point in their perpetual anti-Clinton campaign).

The Dubya administration that has so little regard for privacy and due process and free speech and the lives of its citizens clearly has no compelling reason to protect "gun rights" other than a desire to mollify its base. But if ever it seemed that those gun-thumping bible-toters from the Confederate States had really turned against the administration, we'd find out in a big hurry just how seriously Dubya takes the 2nd amendment. Honestly, it seems that there must be at least one amendment that he supports, so maybe this is the one. Well, maybe the 21st amendment. And the one about "no graven images."

Gun advocates will often argue that guns are necessary because we can't really rely on the police to protect us, and they cite all kinds of anecdotal evidence about corrupt cops, slow response time, and general inefficiency of the system. The answer, they claim, is to arm yourself to the teeth, shoot first, and cry "gun rights" later. It's argued, in fact, that police aren't even a real deterrent to crime, since cops generally respond to rather than prevent crimes from happening.

That argument, of course, is nonsense, because it speaks in absolutes about things that are frankly unknowable. The deterrent effect of police presence can't be ascertained except by noting the effect of police absence. "Nonsense," cry the gun-rights advocates. Crimes are or are not committed because criminals assess a risk as being acceptable or unacceptable, and they commit their crimes accordingly. What does it profiteth a mugger if he shall gain an old lady's social security check if he gains also a pound of buckshot in the ass?

So goes the argument. Arm everyone, and we'll all be free and happy and manly and prosperous etc. etc. etc.

Turns out that that whole cherished argument is refuted by no less a personage than Richard Cheney, who bravely asserts that
"It is no accident that we haven't been hit in more than four years. We've been protected by sensible policy decisions, by decisive action at home and abroad."
Well, that's a relief! That means that all of those so-called terrorist insurgent attacks in Iraq have actually been prevented by Dubya's policy, which is to say that they must not really have occurred.

Of course, Cheney is likely referring to attacks on American soil. In that case, he's almost right. The anthrax mailings occurred late in 2001, which is more than four years. But that grenade attack happened in May of 2005, to name one example. I guess that the mere existence of the PATRIOT act, coupled with ever-increasing fascist surveillance policies, is a sufficient bludgeon to drive even the most terrible terrorist from our shores or into incarceration (in the case of 400 or so people charged with terrorism as of June 2005).

But it's especially nice to see Cheney praising Clinton's adminstration. Since Bill protected us via his own "sensible policy decisions, by decisive action at home and abroad," we were free from terrorist attack from 2/26/1993 through the end of Clinton's term. And we can hardly blame that first WTC bombing on Clinton, since it happened just days after his inauguration. I mean, Dubya wasn't blamed for 9/11, coming just eight-plus months after he said those same words about upholding the Constitution blah blah blah.

So the Dubya Administration is enjoying its role as terrorism deterrent, in exactly the same way that many of Dubya's supporters insist that police do not deter crime.

So which is it, gun advocates? Does a domineering executive presence deter violent crime, or not? Does the lack of an attack prove the efficacy of that deterrent, or not? Do you really think that Dubya would hesitate to negate our cherished "gun rights" if he thought it expedient, or not?

Hey, if ever there were a government from which we needed to protect ourselves, we're suffering under it now. If Dubya et al really felt that some citizen were an actual, armed threat, that citizen would vanish without a trace, perhaps showing up in an unmarked pine box some years later in Uzbekistan or Yemen or Crawford County.

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