Home | Contents | Photos | News | Reviews | Store | Forum | ICI | Educators | Fans | Contests | Help | FAQ | Info

A Well Regulated Militia...

Another response to A Well Regulated Militia...:

I wrote the following letter to the LA Times on 9/23/01:

Too bad the US can't be like Afghanistan, where armed thugs gather in large numbers and practice shooting and killing without worry about government interference. I guess Charlton Heston and the NRA would say we've grown weak compared to the Taliban. I bet Osama bin Laden wouldn't let pinkos or liberals pry a gun from his hands.

I trust the NRA still trumpets the right of everyone, including foreign visitors in the country legally, to bear arms here. If a potential terrorist wants to buy a gun, let's not inconvenience him with background checks or registration requirements. Everyone who wants a gun should have one, whether he's a terrorist or not.

Terrorists have the right to bear arms
From the LA Times, 12/7/01:

John Balzar
Ashcroft Shoots Himself in the Foot

I'm a gun owner. Taxpayers spent good money training me how to use guns, and I have a box of sharpshooter badges to show for it. I've taught marksmanship to neophytes. And from time to time I go to the firing range to re-familiarize myself with guns.

So I'd like to say hurray for Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft, that tried-and-true champion of gun owners. By overreaching so very far in this gridlocked debate about the meaning of the 2nd Amendment, he opened the door for a sensible firearms law in America, at last.

I won't use the words "gun control" because it is, shall we say, a loaded phrase. But that's sort of what I'm suggesting: a law that acknowledges the dangers and great damage that guns do in our society, a law that matches rights with responsibilities. Ashcroft, of course, meant nothing of the kind. He is a firebrand for the 2nd Amendment in the single-minded, perverse way that some of my fellow gun owners have come to twist it. But the law of unintended consequences is a curious thing to behold. And we can hope, for our sake, that this timeless law enforces itself now on our top law enforcement officer.

Of all the places for this surrealistic and pointless fight to come to a head, who would have guessed that it would have been in the war on terrorism? But such is the blind spot that has burned itself into the vision of those zealots who claim to speak for gun owners.

So Ashcroft has spent weeks insisting that nothing will get in the way of government's investigation into terrorism. And then, oops, we learn that actually something did get in the way, something that is more important than the all-out push to prevent another terrorist attack: the right to arm yourself without the government meddling too much.

You see, the Department of Justice has records of recent gun purchases, compiled as part of federally mandated background checks. But Ashcroft said they cannot be shown to FBI investigators.

About 1,200 people have been detained since the Sept. 11 attacks, and the FBI wanted to see if any of them recently purchased guns. Perhaps this is not the hottest possible lead, but investigations are tedious. Maybe there would be a clue. Maybe agents would crack a terrorist cell. Maybe more Americans wouldn't die suddenly in another explosion. Maybe Mom and Dad will be around the tree Christmas morning to open packages and not be buried in another mound of rubble.

After all, as Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) has pointed out, a terrorist training manual found in Afghanistan instructed holy warriors to avail themselves of America's lax gun laws: "Obtain an assault weapon legally—preferably an AK-47 or variation—learn how to use it properly, and go and practice in the areas allowed for training."

Should the FBI be able to trace back and see if any of those detained in the investigation followed instructions?

"Not permissible," Ashcroft's lawyers explained to the FBI. That is the state of the law today in Ashcroft's narrow interpretation. He did not seek its change when Congress earlier granted him sweeping new investigative powers to fight terrorism.

Thus, if you are a suspected terrorist or if you knew a suspected terrorist or if you're a student of Arab descent or if you look like you're an Arab or pal around with Arabs, then your phone calls and e-mails can be tapped. You can be questioned and jailed as a material witness without being told witness to what. Your bank records can be seized. Your motives for giving money to charities can be questioned. Government agents can get search warrants to enter your home while you're away and read your correspondence and search your desk, perhaps also taking samples of your clothing to test for explosives residue or traces of biological or chemical weaponry.

But FBI agents cannot look into the files of their own Justice Department to see if you've been buying guns.

"I believe we did the right thing," Ashcroft said Thursday in testimony before a Senate hearing.

At this point, I think Perry Mason would simply sit down and leave the case to the jury.

Copyright 2001 Los Angeles Times

On the same subject, I wrote the following letter to the LA Times on 12/7/01:

You can't say Ashcroft doesn't support the Second Amendment. He believes even terrorists have the right to bear arms.

Related links
Right-wing extremists:  the enemy within

* More opinions *
  Join our Native/pop culture blog and comment
  Sign up to receive our FREE newsletter via e-mail
  See the latest Native American stereotypes in the media
  Political and social developments ripped from the headlines

. . .

Home | Contents | Photos | News | Reviews | Store | Forum | ICI | Educators | Fans | Contests | Help | FAQ | Info

All material © copyright its original owners, except where noted.
Original text and pictures © copyright 2007 by Robert Schmidt.

Copyrighted material is posted under the Fair Use provision of the Copyright Act,
which allows copying for nonprofit educational uses including criticism and commentary.

Comments sent to the publisher become the property of Blue Corn Comics
and may be used in other postings without permission.