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Fomenting Unintended Consequences
June 22, 2009 — 6:24 pm

Bob Herbert’s recent op-ed is a study in both willful ignorance and cognitive dissonance.

Titled, A Threat We Can’t Ignore, Mr. Herbert attempts to conflate the recent shooting in D.C. to an imaginary, wide-spread, right-wing hate movement. Not only does he do a fantastically poor job of it, he brings up the specter of Waco to attempt to drive his point home.

There was a wave of right-wing craziness along those lines during the Clinton administration. Four federal agents were killed and 16 others wounded in 1993 during an attempt to serve a search warrant at the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Tex., where a stockpile of illegal machine guns had been amassed. The subsequent siege ended disastrously with a raging fire in which scores of people were killed.

That’s one way of looking at it. Another goes like this: Nearly 80 people were immolated when a government tank began smashing walls in while spraying vast amounts of CS gas into the compound which quite probably started the resulting fire. Agents then held back firetrucks a few miles off while women and children burned to death inside. There is speculation that several children died from severe muscle contortions resulting from an overdose of CS gas.

That’s the end result. What Mr. Herbert fails to mention (and what he most certainly knows, as it is one of the most well documented legal cases in recent history), is that the search warrant was obtained on information known to be false. The ATF knew it had no basis to enter the compound so it invented the now infamous “meth lab” and “child abuse” stories. And, to add insult to injury, though they may well have had an arsenal of weapons, only one was deemed illegal.

Mr. Herbert continues:

In the aftermath of Waco, the N.R.A. did its typically hysterical, fear-mongering thing. In a fund-raising letter in the spring of 1995, LaPierre wrote: “Jack-booted government thugs [have] more power to take away our Constitutional rights, break in our doors, seize our guns, destroy our property, and even injure or kill us. …”

I’m not much for hyperbole, but, really, I can’t see anything wrong with the above. For, who else but government (any government) has such a monopoly on that kind of power?

Here’s what people like Mr. Herbert completely fail to understand. The overwhelmingly vast majority of gun owners in this country are peaceful, law-abiding people who just want to be left alone. The evidence is, well, self evident. There are millions upon millions of privately owned handguns/rifles/shotguns, hell even machine guns in this country; and yet, we are not living in some Balkanized hell-hole where snipers are taking a whack at us every time we try to catch the train.

Mr. Herbert continues:

The Southern Poverty Law Center has reported a resurgence of right-wing hate groups in the U.S. since Mr. Obama was elected president. Gun craziness of all kinds, including the passage of local laws making it easier to own and conceal weapons, is on the rise. Hate-filled Web sites are calling attention to the fact that the U.S. has a black president and that his chief of staff is Jewish.

When the state of Missouri passed a concealed carry law several years ago, we heard rhetoric like this all the time. Gun control advocates were certain that the streets would be running with blood. Amazingly, this hasn’t happened. In fact, the Missouri crime rate has kept at a steady pace since, with crime rising in some years and falling in others. Nobody is shooting it out down by the Arch.

And, this allows me to segue into another columnist with some of the same complaints.

On June 11th, Bonnie Erbe of U.S. News and World Report suggests that we Round Up Hate-Promoters Now, Before Any More Holocaust Museum Attacks.

How do we round them up? No answer. Who do we round up? No answer. Who will be in charge of rounding them up? No answer. How does this pass Constitutional muster? No answer. Who watches the watchers? No answer. What is defined as “hate speech”? No answer. Will these people be provided a trial? No answer. What will be the charges levied? No answer.

This is a ridiculously stupid position to take. What happens when the reins of power shift from Democrats to Republicans and they start using this awesome power to detain those they don’t like? No answer. Stupid. Stupid and insipid.

Mr. Herbert and Ms. Erbe epically fail in thinking things through to their logical conclusions. You want more right-wing violence in this country? The sure fire way of getting it is to start rounding them up and taking away their guns. Any half-intelligent person understands the laws of unintended consequences.

Let me make this clear. I stand outside of any structured political party. I’m not a Republican, nor am I a Democrat. I have “liberal leanings” on some issues and “conservative leanings” on others. Saying that, I completely understand the trepidation many gun-owners in this country have towards their government. These are well informed and educated people. When they see things like Waco go down, they tend to take notice. When they see a government cover-up in the aftermath of events like Waco, they start to get prepared.

Take that for what it is. My advice? Leave these people alone. Conflating a couple of maladjusted, unfortunate souls with the entire gun owning/conservative population makes as little sense as blaming all “illegal” immigrants when one breaks the law. These are outliers. Be smart, treat them as such.

Further reading:

Using Waco “Blowback” to Suppress Dissent
More on Bonnie Erbe
The Brown Scare of ’09
The Agitator’s take on all of this

— Justin M. StoddardComments (1)

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1 Comment
  1. Mr. Herbert should read this if he thinks all areas are making it easier to own/carry guns. PA Mayors Making Their Own Gun Restrictions

    Also on CNN right now there is a story about people on the terrorist watch list being able to buy guns 90% of the time. Now some people are ranting about how bad this is (yada yada yada) but what they fail to point out is that maybe those people shouldn’t have been on the watch list in the first place. I mean if 90% of the people on the list were able to buy guns and there hasn’t been a huge surge in crime or terrorism then maybe the watch list was just wrong about those people to begin with. A 90% failure rate — yep, sounds like the government. Do you feel safer?

    I’ll keep my money, my freedom, and my guns — you can keep the “CHANGE”

    Comment by John McAngry — June 22, 2009 @ 6:43 pm

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