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Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Making it Easy for Terrorists to Arm Themselves

Chart showing rapid rise of rightwing paramilitary groups
Most times, sweeping efforts at change have unintended consequences. When a thread is deeply woven into our society, pulling it out will almost inevitably unravel parts of the tapestry we didn't intend to. But rarely does that unintended consequence demonstrate the need for the change that caused it in the first place. A new report demonstrates this phenomenon.

The Guardian:

The number of anti-government, far-right extremist groups has soared to record levels since 2008 and they are becoming increasingly militant, according to a report by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

It says the number of groups in the “Patriot” movement stood at 1,360 in 2012, up from 149 in 2008 when Barack Obama was first elected president, an increase of 813%. The report said the rise was driven by opposition to Obama and the “spluttering rage” over federal attempts at gun control.

Those who were identified as “militia” groups or the paramilitary wing of the Patriot movement, numbered 321, up from 42 in 2008, the SPLC said in its report.

Concern over a “truly explosive growth” of groups on the radical right, along with a rise in domestic terrorist plots, has prompted the SPLC to write to US attorney general Eric Holder and Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano, warning of the potential for domestic terrorism and urging them create a new, inter-agency task force to assess whether it has adequate resources to deal with it.

So here's the thing: because of our insanely loose gun laws, we're pretty much arming the very terrorists who want to kill us. If that strikes you as flabbergastingly stupid, that's because it is.


This sort of soft on crime idiocy is nothing new. After 9/11, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft banned the use of a federal database to find out if people detained on suspicion of terrorism had purchased guns in the United States.

"I'm a little befuddled," Sen. Charles Schumer said at the time. "We're looking for new tools in every direction. I support most of those. But when it comes to the area of even illegal immigrants getting guns and finding out if they did, this administration becomes weak as a wet noodle."

Keep in mind, this was an administration who had no problem violating American's rights when it came to secret and warrantless wiretapping. But start poking around in suspected terrorists' gun purchases and suddenly we're all worried about their freedom. Since the Bush administration was torturing these same people, it seems pretty safe to assume that concerns about their Second Amendment liberties were horsecrap. The truth is that the administration was avoiding headlines like "Federal records show lots of suspected terrorists buying lots of guns in US."

It's one thing to overreact and make air travel a nightmare, wiretap people's phones and read their emails, torture them, kidnap them from countries where we have no jurisdiction, lock them up in concentration camps, and invade a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 -- but it's quite another to react rationally and start keeping terrorists from buying guns in the US. That would be the dreaded "gun control" and, although it would've been the most obvious and sane thing in the world, the Bush administration was Republican to the core. That meant they were the NRA's pet monkey. And the NRA is about selling as many guns as possible. They don't care who buys them. A terrorist's money is a green as anyone else's.

So we were, then as now, in a situation where the unstated argument was that the 2nd Amendment protects the right of America's enemies to buy the weapons they'll use to kill Americans in America. I guess because having to smuggle guns in would be too inconvenient. I'm sure that's exactly what the founders had in mind.

It really is long past time to stop being so damned stupid about guns. When terrorists are buying guns in large numbers, it's time to put a stop to that. Obviously. How anyone can argue otherwise is beyond me. As is so often the case when talking about the gobsmacked right, we leave the realm of logic and enter the shrine of religion. Guns are sacred to the Cult of the Gun Fetishist and that makes them exempt from sanity, rationality, and reality.

As I said, the unintended consequence of the push for gun regulation demonstrates the need for that regulation extremely well. The only people who'd disagree are soulless NRA tools, gun fetishists, blind partisans -- and those terrorists themselves.


[chart via Southern Poverty Law Center]

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