Showing posts with label prohibition. Show all posts
Showing posts with label prohibition. Show all posts

10/30/2014

Government Drug Dealing: from "Kill the Messenger" to "Pinocchio"

“For the better part of a decade, a San Francisco Bay Area drug ring sold tons of cocaine to the Crips and Bloods street gangs of Los Angeles and funneled millions in drug profits to a Latin American guerrilla army run by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, a Mercury News investigation has found.

This drug network opened the first pipeline between Colombia's cocaine cartels and the black neighborhoods of Los Angeles, a city now known as the "crack" capital of the world.  The cocaine that flooded in helped spark a crack explosion in urban America and provided the cash and connections needed for L.A.'s gangs to buy automatic weapons.

It is one of the most bizarre alliances in modern history: the union of a U.S.-backed army attempting to overthrow a revolutionary socialist government and the Uzi-toting "gangstas" of Compton and South-Central Los Angeles."
These are the opening sentences of Gary Webb's three-part series "Dark Alliance: The Story Behind the Crack Explosion".  Published for the San Jose Mercury News, Gary Webb's year long investigation culminated in the "most talked about piece of journalism in 1996".  It was released on the internet at the same time of its print publication, making it one of the first national security stories to "go viral" by bringing the Mercury's website over 1 million hits a day.  "Dark Alliance" prompted congressional hearings by Rep. Maxine Waters, an internal CIA investigation in 1998, and now, 18 years later, a major motion picture starring and produced by Jeremy Renner.

The movie Kill the Messenger is based on the book of the same title by Nick Schou, subtitled How the CIA's Crack-Cocaine Controversy Destroyed Journalist Gary Webb.  In the film, Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner) is cryptically warned by a Washington insider, "They’ll make you the story", and that, more than the CIA-Contra-Cocaine controversy itself, is what the book and movie are about.

In today's era of Snowden's NSA revelations and government distrust at an all-time high, the allegations made in the Mercury series and Gary Webb's follow-up book Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Cocaine Explosion seem almost quaint in comparison.  While it was as early as 1986 that the government publicly acknowledged that cocaine smuggling was funding the CIA-backed Contras, Gary Webb was the first one to answer the question of where that cocaine went and where the money came from.  The answer was found in "Freeway" Rick Ross, the "king of crack" who sold $3 million worth of coke a day, bought 455 kilos a week, and in today's dollar had earnings over 2.5 billion between 1982 and 1989.  Rick Ross was a true entrepreneur in his field.  Unlike typical drug dealers, he didn't get bogged down in petty street rivalry because the whole nation would be his market.  He would introduce himself to other dealers by giving them a kilo for free and then offering them his price that was $10,000 per kilo lower than anyone else, thereby turning all of his would-be competitors into customers.

The reason "Freeway" Rick Ross had a seemingly never-ending supply of the cheapest, purest product was because his supplier was Oscar Danilo Blandón - a protected CIA asset.  Blandón sold cocaine through Nicaraguan kingpin Norwin Meneses and thereby funded the "freedom fighting" Contras against the Sandinista government.  While Webb's investigation sparked outrage across the country and prompted many black leaders to accuse the government of purposefully creating crack to destroy inner city minorities, "Dark Alliance" never claimed anything so conspiratorial. What it claimed, and what the CIA's 1998 investigation later admitted, was that the CIA worked with known criminals as a "means to an end" and merely looked the other way when it came to their drug smuggling activities.

Yet, for such a tame accusation, the major papers of the time unanimously rose against Gary Webb and denounced his reporting, his sources, and his ethics - even making straw man arguments by claiming that he went farther than he did in his accusations.  In the beginning of the attack his editors stood up for him, even writing a letter to the Post saying, "While there is considerable circumstantial evidence of CIA involvement with the leaders of the drug ring, we never reached or reported any definitive conclusion on CIA involvement.  We reported that men selling cocaine in Los Angeles met with people on the CIA payroll.  We reported that the money raised was sent to a CIA-run operation.  But we did not go further."

But soon his editors betrayed him. The Los Angeles Times assigned 17 reporters to join the "Get Gary Webb Team", with Nick Schou writing that some former LA Times writers thought it was their mission not to investigate the allegations but to debunk them, commonly saying "We're going to take away this guy's Pulitzer".  Ultimately, they printed more material attacking "Dark Alliance" than the 20,000 words that comprised the series itself.  When the Mercury editor printed a letter acknowledging that some mistakes were made in "Dark Alliance", it was seen as a full retraction and sealed Gary Webb's fate as a professional journalist.


While many reviews of Kill The Messenger are favorable, often echoing Nick Schou's conclusion that "his big story, despite major flaws of hyperbole abetted and even encouraged by his editors, remains one of the most important works of investigative journalism in recent American history", there are still elements that want to downplay the truth that Gary Webb exposed.

Keeping in the tradition of his former peers at the Washington Post, Jeff Leen, the current assisting managing editor of investigations, says that Gary Webb was "no journalism hero", that an "extraordinary claim requires extraordinary proof", the Hollywood version of the story is "pure fiction" and finally, he believes it "significant" that the 1998 CIA internal investigation "found no CIA relationship with the drug ring Webb had written about."

Of course, Gary Webb addressed this problem of the CIA investigating itself in Dark Alliance.  CIA Inspector General Fred P. Hitz appeared before the House Intelligence Committee in March 1998 and after admitting that the agency did not cut off relationships with drug traffickers that supported the Contra program, he testified "the period of 1982 to 1995 was one in which there was no official requirement to report on allegations of drug trafficking with respect to non-employees of the agency, and they were defined to include agents, assets, non-staff employees".  As Webb explained, "the CIA wouldn't tell and the Justice Department wouldn't ask" - so no wonder the CIA didn't find any relationship to drug traffickers - they didn't have to keep any records!

That such a response from the Post could still be given today reminds me that Walter Pincus, the Washington Post reporter who had been assigned to debunk "Dark Alliance", had collaborated with the CIA in spying operations in the late 1950s and early 1960s and openly written about it.  It's also interesting that in promoting their new film, Focus Features presents an article Unbelieveable but True that details six political conspiracies that "turned out to be true".  The first conspiracy they document is Operation Mockingbird, which details how the CIA recruited and worked with 25 news organizations and 400 journalists to create pro-American propaganda and "help paint the appropriate image of United States foreign policy".

With curious timing, less than two months ago the CIA declassified a six page article titled "Managing a Nightmare: CIA Public Affairs and the Drug Conspiracy Story."  As described by The Intercept, "Dark Alliance" was initially a disaster for the CIA that "could hardly be worse", but luckily, due to “a ground base of already productive relations with journalists", the CIA was able to sit back and watch "with relief as the largest newspapers in the country rescued the agency from disaster, and, in the process, destroyed the reputation of an aggressive, award-winning reporter."

Was it a lucky coincidence that large papers with formal ties and "productive relations" to the CIA came out so aggressively to attack Gary Webb?  It's probably just as much of a coincidence that Gary committed suicide with two shots to the head.  While Nick Schou makes a strong case that Gary Webb killed himself due to depression from his "controversial career-ending story - and the combined resources and dedication of America's three largest and most powerful newspapers" combined with going off anti-depressants, financial woes, and having to move back into his mom's house after being denied by both his ex-wife and ex-girl friend, others view the suicide with understandable skepticism.


According to Alex Jones, he had interviewed Gary Webb a dozen times over the years and reports that months before his death Webb had told him he was "receiving death threats" and was "regularly being followed".  Jones states that Gary Webb was working on a new book that would vindicate his claims and he wanted Jones to build a website to host all of the documentation, similar to how the San Jose Mercury News hosted the material for the original "Dark Alliance" series.  Freeway Rick Ross also recalls Webb speaking about a new book and his gut feeling is that "they killed him, because I think it's pretty hard to shoot yourself in the head twice."  If Jones and Ross are correct, it would be odd timing for Webb to commit suicide on the verge of publishing a new book and building a website to reclaim his reputation, but it would be the perfect time to be murdered.

When reflecting on his expulsion from the journalistic community, Gary realized that the reason he'd had prior success wasn't because he was a careful and diligent reporter, but because he "hadn't written anything important enough to suppress".  If Gary Webb had gone deeper down the rabbit hole there would have been no limit to the amount of additional evidence he could have found establishing the relationship between the CIA and drug dealers across the world.  There is so much information to be found that the film Kill the Messenger, far from being an exaggeration, is just the tip of the iceberg and doesn't go far enough.  Instead, when taking the evidence in its entirety, the reality we face is a nightmare scenario only found in a children's tale.

CIA Cocaine Trafficking Collaboration

The documentation and allegations of CIA drug trafficking are legion, so where to begin?  We could start with former Panama leader General Manual Noriega's decades of drug-trafficking under CIA protection that only ended when his connection became a PR liability.  Venezuelan General Ramon Guillen Davila was another CIA asset that smuggled tons of cocaine into the US with CIA approval.  In more recent times, the Costa Rica Star reported on a curious shipment of 24 tons of cocaine that was loaded onto a U.S Air force transport aircraft in route to Miami.  In the category of poetic irony, two blemishes in the history of the CIA collided on September 24, 2007 when a CIA torture plane ran out of fuel over the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula.  Jet aircraft #N987SA, known to have been used on at least 3 rendition flights to Guantanamo's torture chambers, was carrying 3.6 tons of cocaine when it crashed.  How embarrassing when the "logistical coordinator" for a top Mexican drug-trafficking gang that was responsible for purchasing the jet told the U.S. District Court in Chicago that he had been a government asset for the DOJ, DEA, FBI, ICE and Homeland Security since 2004.

These examples are noteworthy for their historical legitimacy, but there are plenty of other whistle-blowers that directly confirmed Gary Webb's accusations of the CIA's cocaine complicity.  When the black community of South Central L.A. was at its height of unrest over the "Dark Alliance" revelations, CIA Director John Deutch made an unprecedented move by going directly to L.A. and speaking at a town meeting.  His plan to placate their concerns and promise that he'd "get to the bottom of this" fell to pieces when he was confronted by former Los Angeles Police Department officer Michael Ruppert.  Ruppert told Deutch that "the agency has dealt drugs throughout this country for a long time" and referenced three specific agency operations - the crowd went wild, chanting "we told you".

Another whistle-blower tied to Gary Webb was former DEA agent Celerino Castillo III.  Castillo spent 12 years at the DEA where he assembled and trained anti-narcotics teams in several countries and raided drug rings from New York to the Amazon.  But it all came to an end one day in El Salvador when he was given a tip to investigate possible drug smuggling by Nicaraguan Contras.  As documented in his book Powderburns: Cocaine, Contras & The Drug War, Castillo discovered that the Contra pilots were smuggling cocaine using the same pilots, planes, and hangers as the CIA.  He thoroughly documented dates, places, names and DEA file numbers, bringing his superiors reams of evidence warranting a full scale investigation.  Instead of being commended he was told to back off.  When he kept going he was reprimanded and then placed under an Internal Affairs investigation that would help destroy his marriage, his career, and nearly his life.

Someone that would not succeed in escaping this controversy with his life was suspected CIA agent Barry Seal, infamously known as "the most successful drug smuggler in American history, who died in a hail of bullets with George Bush's private phone number in his wallet."  According to Daniel Hopsicker's Barry & 'the boys': The CIA, the Mob, and America's Secret History, Seal had an active role in scandals such as the Bay of Pigs, the Kennedy assassination, and Watergate - but his most well-known and undisputed role was in the Iran-Contra Affair.  Seal owned and operated numerous planes out of the CIA cocaine drop point at the municipal airport of Mena, Arkansas.  This included the plane used in the DEA sting operation against Pablo Escobar and other members of the Medellín Cartel to implicate the Nicaraguan Sandinista government.  In the height of hypocrisy, one month after Seal was murdered, one of the photographs that Seal took was paraded on television by Reagan to suggest that top Sandinista government officials were involved with drug smuggling in order to boost support for the Contras.

When the IRS came to seize Seal's property and claimed that he owed back taxes for 30 million made in drug dealing, Seal's response was a presumptuous "Hey, I work for you… we work for the same people!".  When that didn't work, he started making threats that "If you don't get these IRS assholes off my back I'm going to blow the whistle on the Contra scheme."  One week after that conversation he was sentenced to a halfway house as a condition of his plea bargain, making him an easy target.  Within two weeks he was dead, shot to death in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on February 19, 1986.

Another CIA asset that knew Barry Seal, worked with him, and confirms his drug dealing and money laundering activities was former Air Force Intelligence operative Terry Reed.  In Reed's book Compromised: Clinton, Bush, and the CIA, he documents how he was recruited into the Contra operation by Oliver North himself.  Reed was initially recruited as a pilot instructor to train the Contra pilots at rural airstrips in Mena, Arkansas.  His last tour of duty was in South East Asia to equip the Cambodians to fight a covert war - a skill set that was very transferable for the Contra operation.

At Mena, Reed was introduced to Barry Seal, who he was told was the CIA contractor who had the contract work to equip the Contras.  Reed was told that George Bush himself was overseeing the project to insulate the executive branch from constitutional violations and he even encountered then Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton during this time.  Barry Seal told Reed that more than $9 million a week was dropped from planes at Mena that were laundered through an investment banking firm with direct ties to Clinton.  But where did that money come from?

For two years Reed didn't understand that question.  He worked with the Contras "with blinders on" until one day in 1987 when he came face to face with a C130 filled with tons of cocaine stored in ammo crates.  Like others before and after him, Reed asked for a full-scale investigation that went directly to Oliver North, causing him to be labeled a "security risk" and a threat to the operation.  While Oliver North is a well known key player in Iran -Contra, Reed was the one to go on record putting George Bush and Bill Clinton squarely in the middle of the CIA-Cocaine-Contra-Arkansas loop.  When Hillary Clinton said that we can't legalize drugs because "There is just too much money in it", Reason magazine assumed it was because she didn't understand how drug prohibition itself causes the high prices.  But instead, maybe Hillary meant exactly what she said.

The Politics and Money of Heroin

Suffice to say, the Washington Post and the Las Angeles Times didn't find the CIA-cocaine testimonies of Michael Ruppert, Celerino Castillo III, Barry Seal, or Terry Reed compelling enough to corroborate Gary Webb's "Dark Alliance".  However, these individuals were making claims far more bold than Gary Webb ever did.  Instead of pointing to agents that "looked the other way", they had direct knowledge of the CIA-Contra-Cocaine policy being run by the highest levels of power, from the director of the CIA all the way to the presidency.

Taking a step back on the conspiracy spectrum, we can review the work of Alfred W. McCoy, a well-respected academic who holds his Ph.D in Southeast Asian history from Yale University.  In McCoy's voluminous work The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, he goes through great lengths to document his thesis that organized crime throughout American and Europe collaborated over several decades to establish new centers of opium production, heroin refining, and distribution in Southeast Asia that was often aided and accelerated by the CIA.  His detail-oriented book is known as the first to prove CIA and U.S. government complicity in global drug trafficking, something that even CIA mockingbird papers can't deny.

McCoy writes,
"Looking back on the forty years of the cold war, it is clear that the CIA's four major covert wars transformed tribal warlords into major drug lords and protected covert assets from criminal investigation.  Under the pragmatic policy of accepting any ally effective against Communism, the CIA used tribal leaders for proxy warfare in the mountains of Asia, unconcerned when these same warlords used its protection to become drug lords.  In the history of drug trafficking during the cold war, there is repeated coincidence between CIA covert assets and major dealers."
In the 1950's you find the CIA working with the Corsican Mafia to fight communism at the expense of strengthening them as they became America's leading heroin supplier.  At the same time, two of the CIA's covert wars developed the Golden Triangle drug trade, giving arms and logistics support to the Nationalist Chinese (KMT) in Burma that turned the region into the worlds largest opium producer.  The same thing happened in Laos during the Vietnam War, with the CIA working with opium-growing Hmong tribesmen and Laotian generals to create heroin laboratories and direct routes to ready buyers, first to the U.S. forces in South Vietnam and next to the U.S. domestic market.  Into the 1980's the CIA's support for Afghan guerrillas aligned with Central Asia becoming the major heroin supplier - and we've already heard enough about the Nicaraguan cocaine trade.

For McCoy, he looks at this legacy of CIA complicity and finds plausible answers that ring of the theme "the ends justify the means":
"American drug agents, with limited budgets and side arms, tracked the drug flow as it moved toward America, occasionally intercepting a shipment but never approaching the source…
...
Their ultimate enemies in this war on drugs were … ruled … with the arms and support of the CIA and its allied agencies.  In the invisible bureaucratic battle for these strategic highlands, the DEA's weak, distant attempts at drug interdiction were overwhelmed by the CIA's direct alliances with drug lords.
...
Critics who look for the CIA's agents to actually dirty their hands with drugs in the line of duty are missing the point.  Under its covert warfare doctrine, the CIA avoided direct involvement in combat and instead worked through local clients whose success determined the outcome of the agency's operation.  The CIA's involvement thus resolves around tolerance for, or even complicity in, drug dealing by its covert action assets - not, in most instances, any direct culpability."
McCoy's magnum opus ends in several key questions: Was the agency ever allied with drug traffickers, did the CIA protect these allies from prosecution, and did the CIA's alliances with drug lords contribute significantly to the expansion of the global drug trade?  To those three questions, he gives a resounding yes, beyond any doubt.  When it comes to the question of, "did the CIA encourage cocaine smugglers to target African-American communities", McCoy takes a queue from Gary Webb:
"Instead of targeting downstream drug flow, the CIA, in its mission myopia, simply ignored it.  The agency's complicity in the drug traffic was an inadvertent consequence of its tactics of indirect intervention through paramilitary operations.
...
Whatever the global impact of CIA covert warfare might have been, the agency's alliances with drug lords has left, in the aftermath of the cold war, a domestic legacy of illegality, suspicion, and racial division.  From their mission myopia, CIA agents fighting secret wars in Laos, Pakistan, and Central America seemed to regard narcotics as mere "fallout" - even when the victims were U.S. soldiers in South Vietnam or Americans in the inner cities."
Apparently, as if 60 years of CIA complicity in drug-trafficking wasn't enough, the fallout must continue.  This year, publications such as Business Insider and the Guardian have reported the embarrassing statistic that, despite spending over $7 billion on counter-narcotics efforts since 2001, opium cultivation is at an all-time high in American-occupied Afghanistan.


So let's get this straight.  In July of 2000 the Taliban declared growing poppies un-Islamic and led one of the most successful anti-drug campaigns of all time, resulting in a reduction of 99% of the opium poppy farming and cutting off roughly three quarters of the world's supply of heroin.  Next comes a supposed attack by men mainly from Saudi Arabia on 9/11, so we do the logical thing and invade Afghanistan.  According to McCoy, it's an unfortunate coincidence that given we had to fight the Taliban we had to ally with regional warlords that just happened to be the country's top drug pushers - and then we're off to the races.  Afghanistan's opium cultivation and heroin production were revived as if the 1 year drought had never happened and now we're seeing all time highs - an “unprecedented” 523,000 acres of opium poppy in 2013.

If that isn't enough to get you thinking, recall the bizarre Geraldo interview of Marines openly guarding the opium fields of Afghanistan.  Geraldo reports that if the U.S forces were to destroy the opium then "the population would turn against the Marines".  But don't worry, they are confident that providing the local Afghans with resources and alternatives will help them grow things like wheat, watermelon and cucumber.  What a "dilemma" they are in, we should all feel sympathy for that Marine because guarding the opium just "grinds in his guts".  Who could have guessed that instead of having record bumper crops of cucumbers we are setting a record in heroin production?

Follow the money and it's pretty easy to guess.  With Afghanistan now producing more than 80% of the worlds opium and the estimated value approaching $3 billion, you have to ask where all that money is going.  Are Afghan drug lords putting it all under their mattresses?  No - worldwide drug organizations launder their billions through the largest banks and any google search will find countless examples of bankers admitting to money laundering on massive scales with hardly a slap on the wrist in response.

In April of 2006 when a DC-9 jet was seized by Mexican soldiers with 5.7 tons of cocaine valued at $100 million, the real prize was the paper trail exposing banking complicity in laundering billions of dollars.  The investigation ended with Wachovia settling the biggest action ever brought under the US bank secrecy act, paying a measly $100 million in forfeiture and a $50 million fine when the bank was sanctioned for transferring some $378 billion dollars without applying the anti-laundering regulations.  That's almost half a trillion dollars, one-third of Mexico's gross national product, and they paid a fine less than 2% of the bank's 2009 profit.  To make matters more humiliating, Wachovia was then acquired by Wells Fargo during the 2008 crash as it gobbled up $25 billion in taxpayer money for the Wall Street bail out.

This is hardly the only example of large banks getting caught with billions of drug dealer money.  HSBC paid a hefty $1.9 billion fine to settle money laundering accusations after a Senate report alleged they were "playing fast and loose with U.S. banking rules" and doing business with Mexican drug lords, with their affiliate HSBC Bank Mexico going through $7 billion in a single year.

Citigroup was hit with enforcement actions for breakdowns in money laundering but they were able to get away without admitting wrong doing.  Citibank had $1.8 million seized from drug dealer accounts after a massive undercover money laundering investigation, but only after Citibank had moved $300 million through their accounts known to be tied to Mexican drug dealers because they "had not realized that anything might be amiss".

Whole books are dedicated to the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), which takes the title of "the outlaw bank" and "the dirtiest bank of all".  What a surprise that there are indications that CIA officials were involved in the founding of BCCI, with Alfred McCoy pointing to evidence that "the boom in the Pakistan drug trade was financed by BCCI".

But where would we be without one last "ends justifies the means" argument.  The UN's drug and crime chief says that during the height of the banking crisis of 2008 $325 billion in drug money was laundered by the major banks and kept the financial system afloat.  It was "the only liquid investment capital available" to those fine institutions of the public good.  So not only do we need the CIA working with drug dealers to fight our covert wars but we need that drug money to keep our banking system propped up too!  If it weren't for the millions of lives that are absolutely ruined in the drug war, you'd think there was no down side to this story.

Who Benefits, Who Suffers?

Far off in Washington, sitting at the top of their would-be world empire, our leaders look down on us common folk with pity.  How could we understand the tough choices that must be made?  To cook an omelet you have to break some eggs. What's more important, stopping a nuclear 9/11 or allowing a few more kilos of cocaine or heroin to hit America's streets?  As Dick Cheney said, "We have to work the dark side, if you will.  We’ve got to spend time in the shadows in the intelligence world...  It’s going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal to achieve our objective."

As McCoy concluded in The Politics of Heroin, we have two choices, "We can either deny the agency the authority to conduct covert operations, or we can accept that these missions will involve the CIA in criminal alliances that may well compromise some future war on drugs."

So let's assume that we accept the premise that our national interest extends across the globe in a way that forces our highest government officials to work side-by-side empowering, collaborating, and protecting the largest world-wide drug trafficking networks.  I get it, "drugs are bad", but there are other ways for society to deal with vices.  What really keeps us from having a rational discussion about prohibition and ending the hypocrisy where a government asset can do one thing with total impunity but someone without a special badge can do the same thing and have his life absolutely ruined?  If we are a nation of laws and not of men, then this schizophrenic policy must not continue.

As documented in books like Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces and A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, we've gone from a country raised on Andy Griffith and "peace officers" to battle-hardened "law enforcement" troops - and this change could never have happened without the specter of the drug war.  Today we have 80,000 SWAT teams raids per year, some 220 per day.  They were sold to Americans as the necessary response to Uzi-toting gang-bangers, but now they are in 80% of small towns across the country.

The personal examples of how the drug war utterly destroys innocent families are endless and horrifying.  "Smoke a joint, Lose your Kids", says the Huffington Post.  We're not talking about child abusers here, these are parents that are using legally prescribed medical marijuana to treat diseases like epilepsy and multiple sclerosis only to have their children kidnapped by CPS workers that are far more likely to abuse them.

Her name was Alexandria Hill
One particularly horrible example recently took place in Round Rock, Texas.  The parents of Alexandria Hill made the biggest mistake of their lives when they admitted that they had smoked some pot after putting her to bed.  For his act of "neglectful supervision" the Texas CPS stole her away and put her in foster care.  While the Hill's maintained that Alex had never been hurt, abused, or gone to the hospital while with her family, the first home the state put her in quickly had her coming to her visitations covered with bruises.  The next home they put her in would be her last, as she would be air-lifted to a hospital where she would later die due to blunt force trauma to the head.  Ironically, an investigation into the foster parents revealed the foster father himself had been twice convicted of selling marijuana.

Her name was Rachel Hoffman
Consider the story of Rachel Hoffman.  She was a bright young lady, having just completed her bachelor's degree from Florida State University.  She smoked marijuana occasionally and her troubles started when she was arrested for having some weed during a traffic stop.  Months later her apartment was searched and revealed more government-trafficked contraband which prompted the police to give her a choice: turn over other dealers or face the wrath of the state.  They eventually pressured her into participating in a drug sting, giving her $13,000 in cash to purchase 1,500 pills of ecstasy.  Scared out of her mind, with no training or supervision, her attempt at playing secret agent with the police got her summarily executed by the dealers, her body discarded in a ditch fifty miles away.

The children of John Horner
Finally, in a story that the Atlantic called "a heartbreaking drug sentence of staggering idiocy", you have all the elements of injustice come together: a first time "offender", entrapment by a police informant, and a zero-tolerance jail sentence.  John Horner, a 46-year-old fast-food worker, was legally prescribed painkillers for an eye he lost in 2000. When a "friend" related the pain he was under and asked for help, John agreed to sell him some of his pills.  The "friend" was a police informant and John was sentenced to 25 years in prison.  He has three children and he will be 72 when he's released.

It may be the stories of untimely deaths of the innocent that tug at the heart strings and stir our sensibilities the most, but it's arguable that serving 25 years, 25 years, is a far worse fate.  But at least with a 25 year sentence Mr. Horner can dream of the day when he'll see his children all grown up with families of their own.  For many others they have no hope at all.  A 24 year-old named Tyler was given life without parole for mailing LSD to a friend and he is one of thousands of examples of nonviolent drug offenders that will spend their entire lives behind bars.  An ACLU report reviewed 646 life sentences and instead of finding murderers and rapists, 83% of the time they found nonviolent "criminals".  The ACLU shakes their heads at the waste of it all, $1.8 billion in cost to the tax payers to house 3,278 such inmates.  But is it a waste?  To whom?  Where is that money going?

This is where the individual parts of the government drug running conspiracy come together, as it all begins to make a kind of sick sense: Private Prisons.  As reported by non-US media, America enjoys Chinese style labor camps from coast to coast, bringing the stockholders of America's for-profit prison industry a healthy return on investment with a cheap and readily available workforce.  They aren't just making license plates.  During a time of high unemployment, millions of prisoners are performing slave labor for companies like Chevron, Bank of America, AT&T, Starbucks and Walmart in a variety of industries such as "making office furniture, working in call centers, fabricating body armor, taking hotel reservations, working in slaughterhouses, or manufacturing textiles, shoes, and clothing".

That's right, the next time you call customer support for a company or government agency you're probably talking to a poor soul that's behind bars for possession of government-run narcotics.  The Fed calls it "the best-kept secret in outsourcing", making hundreds of millions a year with their 75-year-old "Federal Prison Industries" program that deceptively markets itself through company names like Unicor.

When the inmates of private prisons aren't busy raising Tilapia fish for Whole Foods, they enjoy extracurricular activities such as getting raped, being placed in solitary confinement for weeks and months at a time, beatings by security guards, fighting off giant rat infestations, and eventually resorting to madness or suicide.  The best part is if the cops aren't catching enough people using government-run drugs then the private prison corporations can always pay off the judges to keep their prisons full and their profits up.  The documentary Kids for Cash relates one such instance where a Pennsylvania Judge was caught and sentenced to 28 years for accepting more than $2 million in bribes for jailing over 3,000 juveniles - some only 10 years old.

Conclusion - The True Story of Pinocchio

Just like when I woke up and saw how 100 different puzzle pieces only formed a coherent picture when taken together, watching Kill the Messenger in isolation may result in one walking away with the feeling that the story of government drug-dealing must be exaggerated.  Sure, there may be a few bad apples, but let's not throw the baby out with the bath water.  Instead, take a look at decades of government complicity, collaboration and encouragement of worldwide drug-dealing, from the forests of Nicaragua to the mountains of Afghanistan.  Think of the hundreds of billions of dollars of drug money laundered through the largest and most prestigious banks on the planet.  Contemplate the additional billions spent by tax payers to "fight" a hopeless war that does nothing to stop drugs, but if anything just takes out the government's small-time competition in the drug-dealing business.  Finally, review the network of industries making hundreds of millions in building jails, housing inmates, and profiting off of their slave labor.  Taken together, this is something so diabolical it only belongs at the doorstep of a shadowy group like the Illuminati.

Our predicament is so awesome in its scope and sinister in its consequences that it's easier to grasp by relating it to a children's tale.  In the movie Pinocchio, the young puppet is lured away from his loving father and the guidance of his conscience to a place called Pleasure Island.  Here, Pinocchio can drink, smoke, gamble and engage in other vices with his peers without a care in the world.  But the owner of Pleasure Island, the one who encourages the children to engage in vices, the one who runs the "drugs" of Pleasure Island, he's not providing this service from the good of his heart.  No, this enterprise is going to make the owner a lot of money.  Once the children have crossed the line and tasted of his forbidden fruit a magic spell transforms the helpless boys into donkeys.  After their metamorphosis is complete they are stripped of their human remnants, packed into crates, and shipped to the salt mines by shadowy figures to work and die - all for the benefit of the owner and all according to his master plan.

If there is one honest and effective anti-drug PSA out there it would be this: don't do drugs because it's a TRAP.  The criminals that run the planet ship the drugs, launder the money and handsomely profit when the legal system catches drug users and turns them into slaves.  Don't do drugs: don't become a jackass like the prisoners of Pleasure Island.

3/21/2013

The Great Object and the Line in the Sand

"The great object is, that every man be armed. [...] Every one who is able may have a gun." - Patrick Henry, in the Virginia Convention on the ratification of the Constitution, June 14, 1788
The history of man is a history of violence.  From a biblical perspective, the first human born on this planet, Cain, was also the first murderer, as he slew his brother Abel, the first human to die.  From an evolutionary perspective, Stanley Kubrick defined "The Dawn of Man" in his film 2001: A Space Odyssey when one tribe of pre-historic ape-men first discovered how to use a bone as a weapon to both kill prey for food and to fight rival tribes of ape-men over territory.

Kubrick and the Bible agree: Men were violent before the invention of firearms.

Man's reorganization from a tribal to a state system of governance did not put an end to violence.  Instead, as the exercise of violence was usurped from the anarchy of the tribe to the ruling class of the state, the disparity of power between the oppressor and the oppressed increased.  When the implements of war consist of hands, feet, and blunt objects, the man blessed by nature with the strongest muscles and the quickest reflexes will win the day.  But with the invention of more specialized weapons, the training required to master them could only be taken on by the enforcement class of the state, as they lived off the taxes and tribute of the peasants who were too busy trying to survive to have time to train in the arts of war.

Hence, we find the peasant rebellions were easily squashed by the professional soldiers and armies of the state.  This was true in medieval Europe as well as ancient Japan, where the Samurai were the only ones allowed to carry swords and the laws stated that any disrespect against a samurai from a peasant was justifiable cause to be killed on the spot.  In some regions this lead to "practice murder" where a samurai could kill a peasant for any reason whatsoever with total impunity.

Lucky for those that don't wish to live in a world with such a disparity of force and the concomitant tyranny it brings, the pendulum of power would begin to swing back into the hands of the common people with the invention of firearms.  On April 19th, 1775, in the towns of Lexington and Concord Massachusetts, the American militia had their first military engagements against the British regulars to start the American Revolutionary War.  The sun didn't set on the British Empire, they had the largest and best trained armies the world had ever seen, but they could not dominate common men that had access to the same level of firepower as they had.

Each advance in the science of firearms brings more power into the hands of the common people against those who would aggress upon them.  Modern firearms are a great blessing for everyone who cheers for the underdog over the bully.  Guns, the great equalizer, put a little old lady in the same arena as a 300 lb. linebacker.  Without firearms the weaker members of our societies are de-facto victims, but with a firearm an 86-year-old woman can defend herself after repeated break-ins, a 71-year-old man can save a café full of people from two armed criminals, a mother can protect her children during a home invasion, a 15-year-old boy can defend his younger sister from a pair of robbers, and a 12-year-old home-alone girl can fight back against a home intruder.

Unfortunately, the same tools that can confer such a blessing to the weak would-be victims in our society can also be used to give added advantage to the aggressors, criminals, and mad-men.  Recent mass-shootings of innocent people, including the wanton slaughtering of children, have brought forth calls to blame guns for the violence in the hearts of men and to return back to a time when the ownership of weapons are restricted to the enforcement class of the state.

For American patriot Patrick Henry, "the Great Object" is for every man to be armed.  His great object is mine as well, and I will promote it with constitutional, empirical, economic, logical, and natural rights-based arguments.  While all gun regulations are unconstitutional, I will also define the conditions for which every freedom-loving American should draw his line in the sand and decidedly resist any further encroachments on his individual right to keep and bear arms in order to avoid the greatest danger of all, democide.

A Constitutionally-Protected Right

The British said "lay down your arms, you damned rebels!", and the Americans gave it to them, one shot at a time.
"The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference - they deserve a place of honor with all that's good" -George Washington
“Americans have the right and advantage of being armed – unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.” - James Madison
"No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government" - Thomas Jefferson
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed" - The Bill of Rights
In a more intellectually honest society, the constitutional argument promoting an individual's right to own guns would not need to be made.  It would go without question that the Bill of Rights recognizes the right of the people to keep and bear arms, and furthermore pledges that our form of government will never infringe upon that right.  The 2nd amendment means what it says.  With that understanding, any debate on this issue would confine itself to whether or not the Constitution should be amended to repeal Article II of the Bill of Rights and in turn grant the government the power to create and enforce laws that would restrict an individual's right to own guns.

Unfortunately, the opponents of gun ownership do not confine themselves to intellectually honest arguments.  With a straight face pseudo-scholars will claim that the 2nd amendment gives the government the right to "regulate" firearms, that the 2nd amendment granted a right to own firearms not to individuals, but to the national guard, that the 2nd amendment only applies to hunting, and that the founders never envisioned the 2nd amendment applying to modern combat firearms.

Regarding the changing meaning of the term "regulate", I responded to this argument in a previous blog:
"Today, the word regulate supposedly gives the government the power to dictate how many rounds my rifle can have, how long the barrel must be, and whether or not it can be suppressed, semi-auto or full-auto, etc.  However, when the Constitution was written a well regulated Militia did not mean the government could tell the colonists what types of muskets they could use, as shown in The Founders' Second Amendment: Origins of the Right to Bear Arms by Stephen P. Halbrook.  He convincingly shows that a well regulated Militia referred to every able bodied man aged 16-60 having a properly working firearm and being trained in its use and ready in a moment's notice to use it should the call be made."
Thus, the first two constitutional arguments proposed by those that wish to restrict gun ownership in America are both based on lawyer tricks and playing on the public's ignorance regarding what a term meant at the time the constitution was written and today.  In 1776 "regulate" meant "to keep regular", such that a "well regulated" militia meant the individuals compromising that militia were well trained and had properly working firearms.  Today the power to "regulate" is commonly viewed as the government's power to create and enforce laws that require permits, licensing, and obeying the dictates of petty bureaucrats.  Quite a difference!  It's even more outrageous to equate the militia with the National Guard, as the founders were smart guys, but not omniscient, since the National Guard wasn't formed for more than 100 years after the Constitution was written!  Instead, the militia referred to every able bodied male aged 16-60, thus, the people themselves.

As Suzanna Hupp said in her famous testimony to congress, "the 2nd amendment is not about duck hunting... it's about our right to be able to protect ourselves from all of you guys up there", referring to the government.  So when the Governor of New York cries out that you don't need 10 bullets to kill a deer, he is merely blowing wind against a straw man.  One can kill a deer without any guns at all, but that doesn't mean that the constitution only allows the people of the United States to own bows and arrows.  As Jefferson said, "The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government."  Put another way, the people have 3 "boxes" they can use to protect themselves from their government.  They can use the "soap box" by exercising their 1st amendment protected right to try and change the minds of others through speech and the press, they can use the "ballot box" to vote for representatives that obey their oath to protect the constitution, and finally, as a last resort, they can use the "cartridge box" to overthrow their government.  As Michael Badnarik said, "if the 1st amendment doesn't work, the 2nd amendment will".

Not only do we need AR-15s, but even more powerful weapons so we can compete against things like this as a last resort.

The final constitutional argument that the 2nd amendment doesn't protect the right to own "assault weapons" used in combat couldn't be more wrong.  Look at quotes from any of the founding fathers and it is clear that's exactly what the 2nd amendment is all about.  Jefferson said it was the strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms.  If the 2nd amendment is there to give the people a last resort to fight a tyrannical government, then clearly the types of arms that are protected are the very same arms that the government itself has at its disposal.  Just as the American people of 1776 owned the same level of fire-power as their British government, one could argue that the 2nd amendment protects today's American's right to own the same level of fire-power that our government has today, meaning Bradley tanks, F-16s, fully automatic weapons, and most certainly semi-automatic weapons with a pistol grip that hold more than 10 rounds, otherwise demonized as "assault weapons".

More Guns, Less Crime, and Vice Versa

Considering this quote, if Thomas Jefferson came back today he probably wouldn't think it is a coincidence that our cities with the highest crime rates, New York, Chicago, and Washington DC, also have the strictest gun control laws.  However, those that are pre-disposed towards victim disarmament laws often claim that other factors could be at work here, whether it be inner-city culture, poverty, or other socio-economic causes.  This is the problem with statistical analysis.  Sloppy research and bias can easily be used to create a study and a corresponding statistic that "proves" just about anything. Investigating socio-economic issues is not the same as chemistry or physics experiments in a lab; it's just about impossible to freeze human beings and isolate just one factor to prove or disprove a given hypothesis.  The closest one gets to such an experiment are the few scenarios in human history where a people that share a common culture are split in two via government, with examples that show the merits of capitalism over communism being East and West Germany following World War II and when Korea was split into North and South Korea.

Given these challenges, John Lott, Ph.D. in Economics from UCLA and author of More Guns, Less Crime, conducted the most comprehensive data analysis on the impact of right-to-carry laws and crime statistics in the United States.  With many states relaxing their gun control laws and legalizing concealed carry over the last few decades, he used these states as mini-laboratories to see what, if any, impact these laws had on the crime rate.

The first point that he comes to should make any intellectually honest gun-grabber think twice.  You cannot point to a single example that shows a statistical decrease in violent crime following a gun control law.  One can misleadingly compare the gun death rate in Britain to the United States, but those are two different "laboratories" with other factors at play.  In fact, one can read Guns and Violence: The English Experience by Joyce Lee Malcolm to learn how Great Britain's violent crime rate has increased since they've introduced stricter gun control laws.  At the end of the day, what does it matter if you're assaulted by a thug with a gun or a knife if you've been disarmed by your government and being a victim is your only legal choice?  The people of Australia are also finding out that a lower gun crime rate doesn't sound so nice when it's accompanied by an increase in violent crime.

Not only is there not a single example of a gun control law doing what it's purported to do: save lives by decreasing crime, Lott's studies found dozens of examples where the repeal of gun laws and the passing of right-to-carry laws resulted in a statistically significant drop in violent crime.

There are several explanations for these results that might seem counter-intuitive.  The first is to understand that not all criminals are lunatics, meaning they respond somewhat rationally to incentives and their circumstances.  As Jefferson quoted long ago, "an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed one".  Thus, with the introduction of concealed carry laws, we see that the rate of violent crime goes down, while the rate of property crime goes up.  Criminals decide to forgo crimes that could result in them getting shot by a concealed carry holder, such as assault, rape, and armed robbery, and substitute that action with crimes that have a lesser probability of such an altercation with an armed citizen, such as a robbery when no one is home.

In addition to looking at the impact of states legalizing concealed carry, Lott has also provided some interesting analysis of the impact of gun free zones.   For instance, the person that committed the massacre in Aurora, Colorado had 7 other theatres that were showing Batman that were closer to his apartment, but he chose the only theatre where guns were banned.  Why would he do that?  As Mr. Lott says, disarming law-abiding citizens leaves them as siting ducks.  Just as criminals adjust their behavior and choose to commit different crimes when more of their would-be victims start carrying guns concealed, even certifiable mad-men adjust their behavior to achieve their goals.

For someone whose mission is to kill as many innocent people as possible to gain notoriety and die in sick glory, they know that they are more likely to accomplish their goal in a place where all of the law abiding citizens are disarmed, such as a school.  Selective reporting by the media can also distort the public's perception regarding gun-free zones and mass shootings.  Everyone knows about the massacre at Sandy Hook, but how many know about the massacres that never took place because they were prevented by a someone carrying a concealed weapon?  Interestingly enough, the same week that the Sandy Hook massacre took place in a gun-free school an Oregon concealed carry holder stopped a massacre in a mall while an off-duty cop stopped a shooter in a Texas theatre.

Gun-Free Zones: The perfect opportunity for mass shooters to fulfill their sick fantasies.

Prohibition: A Case Study

Not only can we learn something about any proposed gun control laws that may descend upon the nation by reviewing what's happened with other countries and states that tried similar experiments, we can also look at a seemingly unrelated case study and make some predictions based on the laws of economics.

In 1920 the 18th amendment to the Constitution went into effect, prohibiting the manufacture, sale, and transportation of intoxicating liquors, aka alcohol. The law-abiding suppliers of alcohol were put out of the market by the new amendment, but the demand for alcohol remained.  As could be expected, new entrepreneurs entered the market to fill this need, and the imbalance of supply and demand caused the price of alcohol to increase to clear the market.  With increased prices come increased profits, and those profits were used by these new entrepreneurs to further their business.  While the previous manufacturers of alcohol had to compete to produce the best product at the lowest cost, the new businessmen were only successful to the extent that they could circumvent the law, meaning they had to use violence instead of the courts to settle disputes and to acquire territory while doing their best to either stay under the radar of the police or to pay them off to look the other way.

Not only did alcohol prohibition fail to rid America of alcohol, alcoholism actually increased during this time.  New York City had far more speakeasies during prohibition then it has bars today!  Not only were Americans consuming more alcohol, they were consuming dangerous alcohol as they had to substitute store-bought booze of a known quality with bath-tub moonshine of dubious quality.  Thus we have the added effect of prohibition causing more alcohol-related deaths because people could never be sure of what they were drinking.

Prohibition didn't work with alcohol, doesn't work with drugs, but this time it will work with guns?

When the 21st amendment was passed to repeal the 18th, America had still not learned its lesson on the economic effects of prohibition.  Namely, that the effect of prohibition for any good will result in criminal elements taking over the business, where these criminals will receive high profits to evade the law and corrupt the police by buying them off, and the products they sell will be of lesser quality and potentially more harmful to the end user.

Does this remind anyone of the current drug war?  After decades of the war on drugs we have more drug use, where the drugs used are more dangerous and have a higher potency.  Instead of using medical grade cocaine of a known quality, users must get their fix from criminals who have cut the cocaine with baby-powder and god knows what else.  Just as alcohol users started drinking home-made moonshine during prohibition, the war on drugs is responsible for the horrible meth epidemic in the United States, as it's much easier to create that poison using cold medicine and other household products than securing a Columbia hook-up.

So what can we expect from any future gun prohibition?  Instead of having law-abiding companies manufacturing guns under the supervision of the ATF, the gun business will move underground and will be entirely run by the criminal element.  Already under-the-counter gun sellers have boasted that any new prohibitions will only benefit their trade.  With the advent of 3D-printing, the gun grabbers' cause is even more hopeless, as now anyone with a 3D-printer can create an AR-15 lower receiver that can withstand hundreds of rounds.  There are over 200 million guns in this country, and even if you could push a magic button to get rid of all of them, you cannot un-invent welding techniques or get rid of all the substances used to make guns, as they are beautifully simple machines.  So the gun business will move into the hands of criminals, their profits will soar, the police will become even more corrupted then they already are, and law abiding citizens will be defenseless.

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.

Calling all Good Guys, Regardless of Costume

When victim disarmament proponents shed big crocodile tears for the innocents killed during mass shootings, they claim they want gun control so that a similar tragedy cannot happen again.  But as we just saw, gun prohibition will result in only two classes of people having guns: the government and the criminals.  This cannot be denied, as no one is talking about disarming the government, and by definition, criminals will break gun control laws just as they break all the other laws.

So what happens when you hear the glass break in the middle of the night and you realize that a criminal has broken into your house?  If you've allowed yourself to become disarmed then you only have one choice: call 9-1-1.  And what exactly are you hoping to achieve with that call?  You want a good-guy with a gun to get there as fast as possible and deal with the bad-guy.

The first thing to recognize is that if you have given up the responsibility of protecting your own life and are depending on the police to do it for you, the case of Warren v. District of Columbia should make you think twice about this decision.  Carolyn Warren and her roommate heard the screams of another defenseless woman who lived one floor below them as she was beaten and raped by Marvin Kent and James Morse.  Warren called the police twice to request immediate assistance, and both times the dispatcher assured them that help was on the way.  Thinking the police had arrived and the worst was over, their nightmare had only begun when the two men realized the presence of the two additional women and for the next 14 hours held them captive as they were robbed, beaten, raped, and forced to commit sexual acts on each other and their two captors.

When Warren sued under claims of negligence the District of Columbia court of appeals ruled that the police do not have a duty to provide police services to victims of criminal acts.  In other words, their job is not to protect you, but to draw a chalk-line around your dead body.  You've been warned.

Protecting your life is your responsibility, delegate it to others at your own risk.

The second thing to recognize in this thought experiment is that no one is truly anti-gun, because when the glass breaks and you dial 9-1-1 you are praying not just for a good-guy, but for a good-guy with a gun.  The only thing that can stop a bad-guy with a gun is a good-guy with a gun, and I'm of the radical opinion that you don't have to be employed by the government to qualify as a good-guy.  Just as there are most definitely good cops who will respond heroically to defend the innocent, there are also doctors, pilots, teachers, plumbers, and taxidermists that would qualify as good-guys.  So what is the basis for this prejudice against the good-guys who don't happen to be wearing a police-man costume?

I can't carry a cop around with me in my back pocket, but I can carry a concealed .45 ACP semi-automatic pistol.  Not only do I want as many good-guys to be armed as possible, but I actually prefer the electricians and musicians and writers to the police.  Why?  Because anyone that has gone through a concealed carry course understands that they are civilly and criminally responsible for every bullet they fire in self-defense. Often times these concealed carry holders will merely brandish the gun and won't even have to fire it in order to prevent a crime.  Compare this with the police who seem to have a license to kill.

In August, 2012 when a disgruntled former apparel designer murdered his former co-worker outside the Empire State building, initial reports thought it might be another mass-shooting as nine people were wounded with one dead.  Soon after it was realized that the police unleashed a hail of gunfire into a crowd of people to try and stop him, and that all of the wounded pedestrians were struck by the police officer's bullets.  If a concealed-carry holder not wearing a police costume had fired a gun so recklessly into a crowd of people he'd be sued for every dollar he had and would spend the rest of his life in jail.

An even more ridiculous example of police incompetence with firearms comes from the recent case of Christopher Dorner, the ex-cop who was suspected of hunting down his former brethren and their families.  When the call came out that their suspect, a large black man, was driving around in a grey Nissan Titan truck, two officers did the logical thing and unleashed a barrage of bullets at an aqua blue Toyota Tacoma containing two Hispanic women delivering newspapers.  The LAPD chief called it a "tragic misinterpretation" that their officers gave "no commands, no instructions and no opportunity to surrender" before opening fire on the two women, one of which was 71.

So yes, if I need someone to back me up, give me an ordinary citizen who understands the dire consequences of firing a weapon any day over the Keystone Cops who see a home-grown terrorist underneath every bed and face absolutely zero liability for the people they wound or kill.

A Natural Right

Every living creature defends itself, it's a law of nature.  The cat has its claws, the dog has its teeth, the rattlesnake has its venom, the porcupine has its quills, and the three-toed salamander has a powerful bite.  Man not only has to protect himself from the beasts of the wild, but also the men who have chosen to become beasts themselves and prey on their fellow men.

So forget what the constitution says, who cares what the statistics show, throw out the arguments based on common sense, logic, or the laws of economics.   Let's get down to the morality of taking away a living thing's means of protection.  If you de-claw a cat and throw it in the wild it won't last very long, and the death is on your shoulders.  In the same way, gun control laws make law-abiding citizens defenseless and they make free men slaves.  And I literally mean slaves, never forget that the first gun control laws in the United States only applied to blacks and Hispanics.

Therefore, all free men should be free to exercise their right to keep and bear arms, and I do mean all free men, even those that are guilty of making a mistake in the past.  Before the Gun Control Act of 1968, someone that was arrested with a shotgun and served their time would be given back their property upon leaving prison.  But this law, much of which was copied word for word from the Nazi's 1934 Weapon Law, for the first time made it illegal for a felon to possess a firearm under any circumstances.

With much of the supposed pro-gun crowd ready to make the concession that "of course felons shouldn't have guns", we have given up the principle of the natural right to self-defense and have become our own worst enemy.  Do I want violent murderers and rapists to be armed? Of course not, but there are only two logical situations that arise when a felon is released from jail.  Either the person has fooled the parole board and decided to return to a life of crime, in which case a gun law restricting legal sales to felons won't make the slightest bit of difference.  On the other hand, if this person has decided to turn his life around, this law banning his right to the means to protect himself is a truly evil injustice of the highest order.  It is very similar to the fate of the protagonist in Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, where a young social delinquent signs up for trauma based mind-control which makes him physically ill at the thought of defending himself in exchange for early parole.  He finds himself not a man, but a pathetic worm who lives at the mercy of those he used to prey on as well as his former partners in crime.

Today's felons are in the same situation as young Alex in A Clockwork Orange, they have been released back into the world not as free men, but as slaves who cannot defend themselves from violence.

True defenders of the right to bear arms shouldn't just be on the defense against further encroachments, we should be on the offensive working to overturn the evil gun control laws of 1934 and 1968.  Every free man should be able to exercise his natural right to defend himself, even if he's made a mistake in the past.  I believe this applies even for those who have made the most heinous of mistakes, let alone for the poor souls that are labeled as felons for committing non-violent crimes, such as those described in Henry Silvergate's Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent.  If we don't stand up for the rights of felons, then we have accepted the principle that the government can take away a free man's right to bear arms and the next thing you know we'll have an army of psychiatrists who can unilaterally declare you "mentally ill" based on their own definitions and strip you of your 2nd amendment protected natural right to keep and bear arms with no due process whatsoever.

The Line in the Sand
"Are we at last brought to such a humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our own defence?  Where is the difference between having our arms in our own possession and under our own direction, and having them under the management of Congress?  If our defence be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?" - Patrick Henry, 1788
"This year will go down in history. For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration. Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead into the future!" -Adolf Hitler, 1935
If constitutional, empirical, economic, logical, and moral arguments have not convinced you to adopt Patrick Henry's "Great Object" that every man be armed, perhaps this sobering dose of reality will win you over.  While the media will spend countless news cycles covering tragedies that are as likely to happen as getting struck by lightning twice, they conveniently forget that bit of history described in books like R.J. Rummel's Death by Government.  In this scholarly work the author examines the history of democide, the intentional killing by governments through genocide, politicide, massacre and terror.  With 14 democides in the 20th century easily amounting to over 200 million unnatural deaths, this book helps put things in perspective when the occasional madmen kills a few dozen innocent people, especially when you consider that every single genocide was first preceded by gun control against the targeted population.  Ottoman Turkey, the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Communist China, and the hell on earth that was Pol Pot's Cambodia all could not have taken place if the millions that were slaughtered had not relinquished their natural right to keep and bear arms.

Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and Pol Pot all agree: Gun Control Works!

So I beg of you, learn from history.  In the words of Michael Badnarik, decide now how bad things will have to get before you draw your line in the sand, and when that time comes, do not back down.  Does a criminal government have to turn all of your rights into privileges, take away all your property, license every activity you want to engage in, and completely disarm you before you stand up? Will you not resist until they're hauling you away on cattle cars to a concentration camp?  At that point it's too late!  Learn from the immortal words of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in The Gulag Archipelago:
"And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family?  Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?...  The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt!  If...if...We didn't love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation....  We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward."
Conclusion

As much as I'd like to end with Solzhenitsyn's emotionally charged "Oh how we burned" quote, I would be doing a disservice to those who might be swayed by my arguments if I didn't supply some resources for those who want to take on the responsibility of protecting their lives from criminals and their natural rights from governments.

Before you go out and buy your first gun, I highly recommend you first seek out proper training.  Not because the government's forcing you, but because it's just the smart thing to do!  Would you operate a chain saw without reading the instruction manual?  Guns are dangerous tools that must be understood and respected.  If everyone would only religiously follow the 4 laws of gun safety, 99.9% of all tragic gun accidents would be averted.  Those rules are:
  1. Treat every gun as if it were loaded.
  2. Never point your gun at something you are not willing to destroy.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
  4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
In addition to taking basic gun safety training, I highly recommend participating in project appleseed to jump start your education on learning the art of the rifle.  It's put on by volunteers, very cheap if not free, they mix in stories of the American Revolutionary War, and they teach time-tested techniques that will have you hitting man sized targets as far as you can see by the end of the weekend.  Once you are carrying concealed, (or better yet, open carrying!) a great way to practice your skills and have a great time doing so is by joining concealed carry shooting competitions like IDPA.

I highly recommend Boston's Gun Bible by Kenneth W Royce for great advice about guns for novices and experienced shooters alike, including the gear, training, and mindset it takes to adopt the American tradition of becoming a rifleman.  Here's one pearl of wisdom he offers: Don't try and "child-proof" your guns, "gun-proof" your children!  Teach them respect for weapons and make them available under your supervision and you won't have them sneaking into your closet and taking them to show-and-tell or thinking they're a toy and killing themselves or someone else.

Finally, we should do everything in our power to use the "Soap Box" and the "Ballot Box" so that we never have to use the "Cartridge Box".  While the NRA has gotten better since Ted Nugent has joined their board of directors, I'm not a fan of theirs simply because they supported the Firearms Protection Act of 1934 and the Gun Control Act of 1968.  With friends like that who needs enemies?  I'm a proud member of the GOA, Gun Owners of America, the only no-compromise gun lobby in Washington.  JFPO, Jews for the Preservation of Firearms, is another great organization that aggressively defends firearm ownership in America.

So speak out to others, write your representatives, and don't just sheepishly beg them to let you have your natural right to keep and bear arms.  We should get off the defense and be on the offensive trying to get gun control laws repealed.  Don't be afraid to let them know, if they want our guns, they can come and take it!

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