STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Guns Kill Civil Society, Says State Department Nominee
By Staff News & Analysis - June 24, 2009

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has scheduled a Wednesday vote on a State Department nominee who supports gun control on a global scale. While advocates of the Second Amendment have come to expect that appointees of President Barack Obama would be hostile to the rights of gun owners, the president's nominee for legal advisor to the State Department reaches a whole new level of anti-gun extremism. Harold Hongju Koh (pictured left), who served at the State Department under the Clinton administration, is a self described "trans-nationalist" who believes that our laws — and our Constitution — should be brought into conformity with international agreements. "If you want to be in the global environment, you have to play by the global rules," Koh told a Cleveland audience. Koh's positions treat our constitutional law as if it were a mere local ordinance on the greater world stage. – Gun Owners of America

Dominant Social Theme: Time to put the guns away.

Free-Market Analysis: It is pretty incredible that these anti-gun conversations take place against a backdrop that has once again repressed a "civil" conversation about citizens' legitimate aspirations to live in a society that does imprison young people for holding hands. Lord knows the Persians possess an intelligent, literate and scientific culture, but they have had the misfortune to live in a period where the West was determined that East serve as handmaiden to a larger good (perhaps global government?). In any event, CIA interference with Iran resulted in the rise and fall of the Shah and eventually the current, abhorrent theocracy.

Just as in the bad old days of the Soviet Union – when France and Germany sheltered Lenin before importing him like a "bacillus" into Russia in a sealed train – so again Europe sheltered the most radical elements of the nascent Iranian theocracy. And eventually these individuals were flown back to Iran just in time to participate in the late 1970s American hostage taking. And so it has degenerated from there. The thugs on the street belong to the "government," and Western governments, unctuous as ever, decry the thugs whose antecedents were cultivated in Europe like hothouse flowers.

There has not been much talk, of course, of guns and the latest Iranian discontent. The Revolutionary Guards and the army evidently have most of the arms that count, and those who are unhappy with the current system are apparently being reduced to shouting "God is Great" from rooftops late at night. One waits probably in vain for a mainstream media report on how tens of millions of Iranians can be subjugated by a relative handful of individuals – except that armaments are disproportionately distributed. Here is some more from the article excerpted above:

U.S. Congress is under pressure from President Obama to ratify an international gun control treaty with countries in the western hemisphere. That treaty, known by its Spanish acronym CIFTA, would likely serve as a forerunner to a more extensive United Nations initiative, the "Program of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in all its Aspects." The Bush administration, under the leadership of UN Ambassador John Bolton, rejected the small arms treaty. Bolton plainly told the world that the United States will not accept a gun control document that violates our Constitutional right to bear arms. Harold Koh commented that Bolton was being "needlessly provocative." In a paper entitled "A world drowning in guns," Koh maintains that a civil society cannot exist with broad gun ownership: "Guns kill civil society," he said. Koh is eager to assume his post at the State Department, having lamented that there is only so much that can be done from the outside to push gun control treaties, and that ultimately we need people like him in positions of power.

We again repeat that the current, endless American conversation about gun control seems fairly incredible. No one wishes for an armed insurrection in civil society, nor does one anticipate such an evolution. But in fact there is plenty of evidence that a population that is armed, even a little bit, can deter a government that would otherwise blithely seek repressive measures. A government that has some worry about enforcing its will is liable to be at least somewhat more flexible when it comes implementing draconian measures. Heck, repressions may even be rolled back over time. This is actually the definition of civil society – that the worst of government excess may be alleviated without tremendous violence.

Who knows where the current Iranian travail will travel? Perhaps the unhappy, youthful (and apparently urban) population will discover munitions hitherto under-applied. But it seems as if much of the damage has already been done. There is a good deal to be said for non-violent demonstrations, but when government believes it can dissolve them with impunity, then they lose some of their immediate impact. To claim, as Koh does, that guns in the hands of responsible and constitutionally literate citizens REDUCES civil society, or that civil society cannot flourish with guns, seems to us a logical fallacy, especially given everything that is going on.

After Thoughts

One barely knows where to begin a rebuttal (though we have tried). If Koh wants to do a bit more research about armed populations, we suggest he spend some time in Iran (perhaps after "calm" is fully reinforced, if it is) and then, perhaps, in Switzerland where gun ownership is most popular and to some degree mandatory. Switzerland, despite its faults, is a most agreeable place to live. Iran does not seem to be.

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