It was entirely predictable that the gun Gestapo would try to exploit the national catastrophes of Sept. 11 for its own political ends, and as expected, it is. The latest sophistry is that gun shows—where people come to look at, admire, fantasize about and buy and sell guns and the paraphernalia that go with them—are helpful to terrorism and ought to be subject to government control, if not banned.
The Gestapo has been after gun shows for a long time, especially since the shows are places where anti-gun control literature is handed out and grassroots activism organized. But now, with a convenient gun control measure being sponsored in the Senate by Sens. John McCain and Mike DeWine that would require background checks on gun buyers at gun shows, and the terrorism of Sept. 11 to use for cheap propaganda, the shows are once again in the gun control lobby's crosshairs.
The Washington Post recently regurgitated the expected fodder from the Violence Policy Center about the supposed relationship between terrorism and gun shows to push for "closing the loophole" that allows unregulated gun sales. It seems that somebody who was a member of the Middle Eastern terrorist group Hezbollah "was convicted in September of conspiring to smuggle guns and ammunition to Lebanon. Federal agents say they saw him buying three guns at gun shows." Then in Florida somebody else "accused of being linked to the IRA" has testified that he and his pals also bought guns and hand grenades at a gun show. In Texas, yet another somebody with a Muslim name, but whose precise connection to terrorism the Post does not quite make clear, has admitted he bought guns at gun shows for years. [VDARE note: He was an illegal immigrant, but somehow the Post overlooked this immigration dimension.]
Well, OK, all of this is true, no doubt, because it did appear in the Washington Post after all, but there's just one question: Where's the "loophole"? In every single instance the Post recounted (or with which the Violence Policy Center provided it) the "terrorist" or lawbreaker or whatever he was got caught and was charged. Indeed, that's how anyone knows about these examples at all. They all come from testimony provided at the trials of the gun purchasers involved. So far from proving there's a "loophole" through which whole armies of terrorists are marching, the examples prove that terrorists who buy weapons at gun shows get caught.
But then, the relevance of these examples is open to question as well. What's remarkable about the terrorism of Sept. 11 is that, contrary to gun Gestapo mythology and propaganda, the largest act of mass murder in history took place, and not a single shot was fired. As far as gun shows are concerned, you might as well demand that Wal-Marts be outlawed if it turns out that's where the hijackers bought their box cutters.
If in fact the pilots and crews of the planes hijacked had actually had firearms, or if anyone on the planes had had them, none of the hijackings would have occurred. It's quite true that firing a gun on an airplane can cause the plane to crash, but so can attacking the crew with box cutters. I'd feel a good deal safer if I knew that the crew, the pilots and other passengers were packing iron than if I knew some gentlemen of Middle Eastern extraction carrying perfectly legal box cutters were flying the friendly skies.
So probably would most other Americans, unless they happen to work for the Washington Post or the Violence Policy Center. The New York Times reports that in the aftermath of Sept. 11, gun sales skyrocketed. "The rise [in gun sales] was anywhere from 9 percent to nearly 22 percent during September, October and November, according to F.B.I. statistics on background checks for purchases. The total peaked in October, at 1,029,691."
Americans have every right to buy guns, and protection against terrorists is a perfectly legitimate reason to buy them, especially since it's clear the government did nothing to protect against Sept. 11. But Osama bin Laden and his boys probably aren't going to break into your house anytime soon or mug you in the parking lot. What the fever of gun-buying may really mean is not that more Americans are now safer from terrorism but that a lot of folks who know nothing about guns now have some.
People who buy and own guns need to learn how to use them and how not to use them. Otherwise they cause accidents and injuries to themselves and others and merely provide the gun Gestapo with more propaganda to exploit. In the meantime, terrorists of any extraction might be better advised to pick on people in airplanes whom they know for sure aren't armed than on the million or so new gunowners in this country whom they know for sure are.
COPYRIGHT 2001 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
January 07, 2002