Tuesday, September 21, 2010

End Prohibition to Protect Gun Rights

The Washington Post recently ran another story on the Mexican government's losing drug war, focusing on the guns used and their sources, including the United States. Related stories of increasing corruption of U.S. law enforcement, especially border agents, by narcotics gangs are also on the rise. As reported in an earlier post (see: The Myth of 90%), reports of guns flowing into Mexico via the U.S. are wildly exaggerated, but focusing on guns and gun trafficking at all misses the real point:

Prohibition is a failed policy it is time to end.

Understanding supply and demand is the soul of capitalism, yet we, the world's largest and most successful capitalist democracy ignore this rule and instead create laws to control the personal habits of consenting adults and promote a modern-day piracy of transnational and interstate drug gangs whose members and methods would blend in with the worst rum runners or slavers of centuries past, not to mention the Prohibition gangs of the 1920s-30s.

The problem is drug prohibition, not gun shows, not gun dealers and not civil rights to own firearms protected under our Constitution.

End prohibition, and you end the on-going corruption of law enforcement, the profit-motive behind a majority of murders in this country as well as in Mexico, and the general erosion of the rule of law and respect for the same that occurs over the long-term when laws don't correspond to civil or substantive rights, much less to common sense. End prohibition and we gut the finances of the gang culture that has gripped American inner-cities for generations; we free up the courts and prisons for violent offenders. We save money. We save lives squandered in prison or snuffed out in pointless feuds.

It's time to stop the insanity of doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. It's time to demand change from our politicians, and give those with the courage to end this "war" our backing.

Anybody who wants to can go out to their car right now, soak a rag in gasoline & get high for a few minutes. Are we going to ban the car? Prohibition of recreational drugs (and no, I don't use them or hang around with people who do) is an historical accident that needs to be corrected. Consenting adults can huff gasoline or hairspray, they ought to be able to kill brain cells with pot, meth, heroine or prescription drugs if they really feel the need. We need to start learning from the mistakes of history instead of repeating them.

Al Capone must surely be laughing somewhere.


Jodi said...

I understand that the logic takes us to this extreme in lifting prohibition, but I have a tough time with making some of this legal. It is an internal struggle for me, since I know the logic says that is what we need to do but I fear a society with ready access to prescription pain killers, cocaine and heroine.

Zak Johnson said...

I think it's time to end prohibition, not time to promote drug use. The irony for me is that illegal drugs--which are unregulated--are easier for kids to get than alcohol, as I witnessed last week in passing by a group of stone middle schoolers reeking of pot. I have a lot of sympathy for William F. Buckley's solution posed decades ago of complete legalization for adults coupled with severe penalties for anyone selling to the underage.

I think we also need to maintain companies' rights to drug screen & deny jobs based on positive tests, since it creates liability issues for them to have people at work under the influence. Ditto driving.

But the prison-industrial complex just ain't working.

Anonymous said...

Hm. As much as I'd like to agree, and would have in earlier years, I don't sense, Zak, that you ever lived in a place where drugs of all kinds are effectively legal through lack of enforcement. And I mean the really bad stuff, everywhere, all the time.

In my experience, all this liberalization does is create new categories, practices, and depths of depredation. Bigger dangers, more pathologies, and an expanding concatenation of power axes based on hooking people on addictive substances that will eventually kill them and cost society a fortune.

"Recreational drugs" is a term reeking with class privilege (like the privilege to be all somber when seeing pot-stoned young teens--if that's the worst you've observed, you are truly fortunate). In my neighborhood drugs weren't used for recreation.

But it's not possible to argue experience against ideology or abstraction. So we're in two different galaxies on this one, largely, I suspect, around class.

Just because the degreed professionals who run the prison-industrial-judicial complex are failing to do their job doesn't mean that the problem can be easily erased by erasing all laws. The problem there is that the well paid people in those fields simply aren't doing what they are hired to do. They probably can't, because their class backgrounds and experience leaves them ill equipped to understand the basics of what's going on except through third and fourth parties.

I don't see how it's possible to screen all drivers and workers all the time for impairment, unless what you're suggesting is a high-tech police state beyond the wildest fantasies of Big Bro.

The way to protect gun rights is to decouple them from straw men and nonsensical argument and extraneous topics raised by anti-2A people. Those people have their own agendas. Let's not get caught up in their strategies of blurring the issues. The issue is that anti-gun people will come up with any tactics to take away RKBA. Let's deal with that head on. In my experience, Jodi is exactly correct. There is a reason you don't live in the neighborhood I grew up in. It's hell. And ready availability of drugs, and drug money/economics/culture, were a large factor in making it that way.


Zak Johnson said...


Could you expand on this: "In my experience, all this liberalization does is create new categories, practices, and depths of depredation. Bigger dangers, more pathologies, and an expanding concatenation of power axes based on hooking people on addictive substances that will eventually kill them and cost society a fortune"?

I lived in DC in the 80s; drugs were considered illegal but crack was so prevalent you smelled it everywhere and dealt with the consequences of users everywhere. Possession alone was barely grounds for arrest, let alone jail time. My experience is that people under the influence of drugs, be it alcohol, pot, meth, acid, hair spray, cocaine or heroin, are at a minimum annoying, and at times quite dangerous, but that drug addicts are rarely deterred or controlled by prison sentences or threats of any kind once their fix becomes a physical or psychological craving/crutch. If you want to argue about class, then contrast violence in different ethnic & economic classes in the US with the likelihood of criminal penalties being applied for simple possession or even limited sales--the famous adage that busted white kids go to rehab and busted black kids go to jail has a lot of truth to it, and the difference in results is fairly obvious.

I'd also add legalization & social acceptance are by no means the same thing.

I quite agree with your point about decoupling guns & drugs as related issues...except that prohibition of the goods that people want always creates a black market and such underground markets usually produce violence and murder. Prohibition provides a rational (if immoral) purpose for murder, and the profits available provide the money to buy weapons for murder. No prohibition would mean no territorial disputes between drug gangs & lower prices for product (lessening the incentives or need for theft or muggings). The arguments that ending prohibition would somehow lead to hell on earth fail to note that many neighborhoods in American cities are there already.

Anonymous said...

You'd be surprised at how many LEOs agree with you. I know I was.