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Uganda terrorizes its own citizens under the auspices of UN gun control mandate

That's the thesis of my article just posted on Reason Online. Commenters are encouraged to stay on-topic, rather than trolling about John Lott. Commenters are likewise encouraged not to feed the trolls by responding to them.

Freddy Hill (mail):
David, I think that what follows is on-topic, since you made it so in your post. If I'm wrong, feel free to delete:

While the thread on Second Amendment Books was eventually hijacked by the sheer volume of Lott posts, I don't think that you could accuse any single poster (and more specifically the original proposer of Lott's book) of being a troll. It seems to me that the topic of Lott's credibility was more interesting to a lot of commenters than your original post, so they went for it. Is this bad?

I'm only commenting in the spirit of recent posts in which EV and others seem to be reevaluating the VC's comment policy.
2.24.2007 12:29am
logicnazi (mail) (www):
Ohh c'mon oppressive regimes use all sorts of excuses to terrorize their populations.

Does the fact that fighting terrorism is often an excuse to oppress the government's critics show that the war on terrorism is a bankrupt idea? Does the use of fraudulent elections to convey legitimacy on tyrannical regimes prove that we should abandon democracy?

Frankly I just don't see the argument against gun control here. You have a good argument against the UN's complicity in genocide under the name of gun control but that isn't the same thing. The UN helped Saddam's regime under the auspices of humanitarian aid but this doesn't prove that humanitarian aid is a bankrupt concept no more than this shows that arms control is a bankrupt concept.


[DK: This is an excellent example of a critical comment which helps to advance the discussion. It sparked several good responses which also advanced the discussion. Keep up the good work, LN. BTW, I agree with you that the Uganda atrocities don't prove that gun control in all possible contexts is a bad idea. I do think that the record from many countries suggests that UN involvement in gun control--and, often, in humanitarian aid--leaves a lot of room for improvement.]
2.24.2007 1:30am
Daryl Herbert (www):
Frankly I just don't see the argument against gun control here.

"Anti-terrorism" can be used as an excuse to terrorize a population. It's just rhetoric. Don't get me wrong, rhetoric can be dangerous (stirring up ethnic hatred, for instance). But it's still just words.

Gun control is a means of making people powerless to resist being terrorized. It's a policy that's carried out by soldiers and police.
2.24.2007 1:46am
logicnazi (mail) (www):
Herbert,

Sure, I understand that there is a real argument that gun rights are important to prevent tyranny. I even have a great deal of sympathy for it unlike the arguments about needing to protect oneself from crime and the like. However, this example adds nothing to that debate. It just gives an example of oppression masquerading as gun control just like oppression can masquerade as humanitarian concern or anti-terrorism.

The sorts of examples that would be relevant to this debate are situations where gun rights allowed the populace to resist tyranny (and this is subtly different than situations where guns allowed someone to resist tyranny).
2.24.2007 3:07am
Barry P. (mail):
Why is talking about America's best known anti-gun-control advocate on an anti-gun-control thread defined as "trolling"?
2.24.2007 3:19am
jim:

Frankly I just don't see the argument against gun control here. You have a good argument against the UN's complicity in genocide under the name of gun control but that isn't the same thing.


It is an argument against UN supported/created/enforced gun control, no? Or at least an argument against the categorical support for gun control that seems to emminate from the UN.
2.24.2007 6:02am
godfodder (mail):
Shouldn't the UN be held responsible for the unintended consequences of their policy mandates? Everyone else is. Heck, the US gets blamed for every imaginable concatenation of cause/effect that flows from its actions.

In many parts of the World (i.e., not Europe or N. America), privately held guns are a major bulwark against tyranny. The UN, of all institutions, should know this. Perhaps they chose to ignore it? Or put ideology before reality?

Doesn't that make them worthy of criticism? Or is that reserved only for the Bush Adminstration?
2.24.2007 8:07am
Kovarsky (mail):
i sympathize with david's desire to prevent the thread from being hijacked, but if an argument places a particular figure's credibility front and center, that has to be fair game.

i don't usually post on the gun control threads, so i have no idea what the background is here.
2.24.2007 8:17am
godfodder (mail):
Barry P.,
I think what David means (if I may be so bold) is that a bunch of ad hominem attacks on John Lott don't serve any real purpose, since none of us have ever even met the man. It is just a pile of third hand rumors, assumptions and off-hand impressions based on very few, and carefully selected, data points. Add them together and what do you have? An argument, but not much else.

Plus, John Lott's reasoning not the totality of the pro-gun position. So... it is probably better to focus on the disembodied arguments than fixate on one spokesman.
2.24.2007 8:18am
Kovarsky (mail):
ok i just read the article. that sounds horrible, but you gunny types, answer me this - is there supposed to be some sort of implicit analogy i'm supposed to draw? and if so, is that analogy supposed to be "if the united states suddenly descends into conditions resembling those of a war torn african country, then gun control will compound the violent character of the "state" and factional (non pejorative) coercion that replaces the rule of law?"

am i not understanding something? it seems ironic that someone would inveigh against "trolling" about lott's support for gun control when the authors' interest in the primary subject matter seems confined to what it says about gun control. it seems that interest in uganda's "gun control" is itself trolling of sorts, insofar as it is a brazenly selective interest in a tactic of factional supppression and an extremely minor dimension of a broader political conflict.

if the "trolling" objection is that "every time we talk about gun control we get off topic about trent lott," it seems that most whatever broader inference the authors seek to create about gun control is equally off topic for people that are interested in what's going on in africa.
2.24.2007 8:31am
Kovarsky (mail):
john lott, not trent. sorry.
2.24.2007 8:32am
Jimmy in Texas:
Jim said:

It is an argument against UN supported/created/enforced gun control, no? Or at least an argument against the categorical support for gun control that seems to emminate from the UN.

Frankly, I believe this makes a larger statement about the UN in general.

Has there ever been a UN action or edict that has achieved its intended objective? Now, let's weigh that lack of success against the multitude of examples where the UN, and its meddling, has been used as a shield by dictators and thugs, worldwide.

I truly believe they need to go back to strictly handing out rice and bandaids. Nothing more.
2.24.2007 9:34am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Exactly to what extent is the big bad UN funding this campaign? Although you complain that the UN is complicit, you note that the UN cut off aid but has subsequently restored it; but only to the extent of a "public relations sanction" for the disarmament program. Exactly how much money is the UN giving Uganda for this program?

And of course your link to the UN Human Rights Program is broken, so we can't check the accuracy of your quote or if you have taken it out of context.
2.24.2007 9:41am
Ken Arromdee:
Exactly to what extent is the big bad UN funding this campaign?

Does it matter? If I go out and campaign for all Jews to be killed, and then some politician with no funding from me listens to my speeches and then implements a policy to kill all the Jews, wouldn't that still be my fault? Support can happen without funding; the UN has added to the respectability of the idea and generally created favorable conditions for it to be put into place; why shouldn't they take some of the blame?
2.24.2007 10:39am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
If I go out and campaign for all Jews to be killed, and then some politician with no funding from me listens to my speeches and then implements a policy to kill all the Jews, wouldn't that still be my fault?

Except the U.N. is not advocating genocide, it is attempting to reduce the number of illegal arms in the world. Dave thinks the solution to Africa's political problems are more small arms. He seeks a solution, that in my opinion, guarantees even more death, destruction, and genocide and works actively to stymie efforts to reduce the international arms trade. Is there anywhere in Africa where more guns have led to stable governments? If anyone has blood on their hands, it is the likes of the NRA and the organizations that Dave Kopel and others like him represent.
2.24.2007 11:02am
SeaLawyer:
It has been clearly explained time and time again, that when you take a way the means for people to protect themselves, then genocide will occur.

So yes the U.N. is advocating genocide.
2.24.2007 11:45am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
It has been clearly explained time and time again, that when you take a way the means for people to protect themselves, then genocide will occur.

Just saying it over and over again does not make it true.
2.24.2007 12:27pm
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):
J.F. Thomas-

Just saying it over and over again does not make it true.

That goes for you too. Where are all these examples of genocides against armed minorities? There aren't any that come to mind, because it doesn't become a genocide because the people can defend themselves. Then it's called a civil war, sectarian violence, etc. And its not just NRA propaganda that the major genocides were carried out by regimes with very strict gun control.
2.24.2007 1:09pm
godfodder (mail):
Look, everybody on both sides of this debate favors taking guns out of the hands of bad people. The problem is that there is no reliable method for doing that. Instead, gun control policies tend to disproportionally disarm the good people, because they tend to be the ones who follow laws.

I don't see any way around that dilemma... especially in the Third World.
2.24.2007 1:42pm
jim:

Except the U.N. is not advocating genocide, it is attempting to reduce the number of illegal arms in the world. Dave thinks the solution to Africa's political problems are more small arms. He seeks a solution, that in my opinion, guarantees even more death, destruction, and genocide and works actively to stymie efforts to reduce the international arms trade.


Where does David say that he wants there to be more small arms? My interpreation of the piece was that he was merely pointing out the flaws in the UN's systematic support for disarming non-government agents while tolerating the abuses perpetrated by armed State agents.

Attempting to reenforce a state'a monopoly on force by removing citizen's "illegal" arms is problematic when the state that benefits is illegitimate or violent. Even if gun control is a positive thing in general, the UN seems to show amazing disreguard for specifics, and their costs in human lives.

In other words, I think pragmatism and consequentialism should trump principle and abstract reason. The UN either disagrees or doesn't care, because it treats civilian disarmament almost as if it were an inherent good and an inalienable right.


[DK: Thanks. If the trolls would actually read the articles before criticizing them, they would have seen this: "If the Karamojong didn't have to worry about the central government targeting them for genocide, or stealing their land, one could possibly make an argument that they would be better off without guns. The various tribes have a long tradition of inter-tribal cattle rustling, and the cattle-raiding would undoubtedly be less dangerous if perpetrated with stone-age weapons instead of AK-47s."]
2.24.2007 2:17pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
J.F. Thomas:

"If anyone has blood on their hands, it is the likes of the NRA …"

How does the NRA have blood on its hands? Has the NRA given someone a gun and told him to go shoot someone?
2.24.2007 3:33pm
Colin (mail):
Prof. Kopel, how are you defining "troll?" It seems coterminous with "someone who disputes the thesis of my article or post."
2.24.2007 3:40pm
Colin (mail):
Excuse me - hit "post" instead of "preview." I meant to add that it's very helpful when you add the green border around comments that you reply to in-text, but only if you do so in every case. Otherwise, it's very easy for those of us reloading the thread to miss your responses to past comments.

You quote yourself saying that certain tribes would be better off without small arms, given their history of constant low-level conflict. But you curtail the quote! The article goes on to say, "But as a practical matter, there have been numerous instances of civilians who have voluntarily disarmed, and were then—despite government promises of protection—robbed by the competing tribes who remained armed. And the loss of even a small number of cattle can place a subsistence level family at risk of starvation." (There's still more to the quote, so of course everyone should read the article if they haven't already.)

I cannot imagine you advocating the disarmament of all tribes who could potentially raid each other. Please let me know if I have misunderstood you. But as I read the article, how is it fair or accurate to say that your positition is not that all groups should be provided small arms? That seems to be the only outcome consistent with your perspective on the results of uneven armament.
2.24.2007 3:49pm
NickM (mail) (www):
Who gets to decide what are "illegal arms"?

If you legitimize giving a Bashir, Bokassa, Macias Nguema, Jong Il, Saddam Hussein, Amin, Pot, Hitler, Stalin, Mugabe, Karimov, etc. the right to decide what arms a person can have, your actions are objectively supporting tyranny.

The fault is inherent in the nature of the UN. A nation ruled by a psychopathic authoritarian dictator is considered to have just as much legitimacy in its laws as a democratic republic.

Nick
2.24.2007 5:12pm
logicnazi (mail) (www):
DK,

If your thesis is meant to be only that the UN's involvement in gun control is problematic I think I agree with it (absent major changes in the UN). In fact I do think there are serious problems with any gun control effort the UN might engage in I will suggest below.

JF Thomas,

It seems to me that the problem in this situation is the word 'illegal.' Yes, the UN may be clamping down on illegal gun ownership but the people who determine what is and isn't legal seem to be the countries themselves.

This seems to be a fundamental problem with any attempt by the UN to implement gun (not arms) control. Who should have guns is a question requiring individual moral consideration. Even if you favor gun rights you probably think the LRA and other organizations that repeatedly rape and kill ought to be disarmed while even if you are a very pro-gun control you probably don't support taking guns from ethnic groups struggling against government genocide. Useful gun control would require the UN to decide which regimes are bad and warrant armed resistance and which are good and deserve help clamping down on rebel elements.

This is just one more example of the fundamental identity crisis afflicting the UN. Is the UN a place where sovereign nations can meet to work out treaties and avert war or is it a weak form of world government? Unfortunately at the same time people demand the UN not usurp the internal affairs of nations it is also expected to act to defend human rights and otherwise reign in the actions of bad governments.

However, as this is primarily a problem with the UN it says nothing useful about gun control by true governments rather than weak international organizations that give tyrannical dictators the same votes as large democracies.
2.24.2007 6:04pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Where does David say that he wants there to be more small arms? My interpreation of the piece was that he was merely pointing out the flaws in the UN's systematic support for disarming non-government agents while tolerating the abuses perpetrated by armed State agents.

In this particular article he doesn't. But the effort of the groups he represents and indeed, the way his allies managed to scuttle the recent UN efforts to limit the worldwide trade in small arms (which he boasted about on this very site), demonstrates his undying belief that the more guns there are in the world, the better off we all are.

one could possibly make an argument that they would be better off without guns.

Are you actually making that argument Dave? If so, I believe it would probably be the first time you had ever made such an argument.
2.24.2007 7:15pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Where are all these examples of genocides against armed minorities?

What European treatment of the American Indian? It was genocide even though the Native Americans fought back, even against sometimes overwhelming odds. Disarming the minority doesn't cause genocide, or make it less inevitable, it just makes it a little easier. And with modern air power, where chemical, incinerary, or cluster munitions can be delivered by modern jet aircraft, genocide can be delivered from 30,000 feet with almost no risk to the perpetrators.
2.24.2007 7:28pm
SmokeVanThorn (mail):
JFT - I'm sure you would acknowledge that one of the things that made the odds against Native Americans "overwhelming" was the superior weaponry they faced. Your last point - that genocide can be far more powerful than small arms does not seem to apply to the example at hand. In addition, it can be applied to support the right/necessity of a population to possess weaponry equal to that possessed by the potential practitioners of genocide - that is, more and more powerful weapons, not the prohibition of less potent ones.
2.24.2007 8:26pm
Loki13 (mail):

In addition, it can be applied to support the right/necessity of a population to possess weaponry equal to that possessed by the potential practitioners of genocide - that is, more and more powerful weapons


Excellent! I would like to place an order for one of them stealth fighters, a few tanks (mebbe Abrams), a variety of machine guns (light to heavy), some chem and bio weapons, and one ICBM please!

Oh, and a pony. Gotta have cavalry!

I can put that on my mastercard, because not being genocided by the gummint?

Priceless.
2.24.2007 9:00pm
jim:

the way his allies managed to scuttle the recent UN efforts to limit the worldwide trade in small arms (which he boasted about on this very site), demonstrates his undying belief that the more guns there are in the world, the better off we all are.


Again, I am not sure how that follows. One can oppose gun control efforts without believing guns are a good thing. All you have to believe is that it is worse to have very asymetric gun possession that favors criminals having guns and law-abiding citizens not having them. That can easily be the consequence of certain gun control efforts, and the article linked here is a concrete example of it.
2.24.2007 10:53pm
Don Meaker (mail):
It is important to know how guns act to reduce genocide. They are not a magic talisman, but rather a tool which can be used by a majority good people against a minority of bad people. Certainly bad guys will always find a way to have guns, but when outnumbered, will have to use stealth. Good guys can have guns too, but because they are good, will us careful methods to catch and punish bad guys when they can. During war, careful methods may not be appropriate.

During WWII, for the lack of simple skills in use of armored vehicles, radio communication, and combat aircraft, the bad guys were able to conquer Poland, France, much of China, and Greece. Once the skills became available, the bad guys were pushed back. The Soviet Union, as bad a group of thugs as ever existed, switched sides which helped a lot, but reduced the extent of victory.

In the early days, guns in the hands of good people could help slow down the recruitment of people into the bad guys organizations. These recruits, perhaps not bad themselves, but under the command of bad people, are usually necessary to the success of the plans of bad people.

Far worse than bad weapons in the hands of bad people is bad history, which is a powerful recruiting force. Huzzah for alternative media!
2.24.2007 11:35pm
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):
J.F. Thomas-

What European treatment of the American Indian? It was genocide even though the Native Americans fought back, even against sometimes overwhelming odds.

It at least made the efforts more difficult. And disease played a major role. If disease hadn't wiped out the majority of the population the outcome might have been very different.

Disarming the minority doesn't cause genocide, or make it less inevitable, it just makes it a little easier.

I would say it is a fairly significant obstacle, depending on the circumstances. And given that the outcome is so negative, any obstacle that can be raised is a positive.

And with modern air power, where chemical, incinerary, or cluster munitions can be delivered by modern jet aircraft, genocide can be delivered from 30,000 feet with almost no risk to the perpetrators.

This is somewhat of an exaggeration. One, a lot of the bad guys can't afford the really deadly stuff. Two, in many situations it can't be used that effectively, especially against guerilla fighters. The US bombed the hell out of the Viet Cong and the Soviets bombed the hell out of the mujahadeen, but were ultimately unsuccessful. Also, if events play out over longer periods the chance of guerillas obtaining countermeasures, better tactics/expertise, etc. rise greatly - see Viet Nam and Afghanistan again. And finally, the more high profile the destruction the more likely that significant powers will face sanctions from the world community. So the existence of high tech weaponry doesn't in itself make small arms obsolete or useless.
2.25.2007 7:20am
Joshua:
I was about to comment merely that the stated larger goal of the gun rights advocates (to deter tyranny by making a bloody civil war the likely result) is directly at odds with the stated larger goal of the UN's gun control policies (to avoid bloody civil wars). But it occurs to me that it goes deeper than that.

When people are discouraged from confronting their oppressors (by a lack of arms, fear of reprisals or what have you), the outcome is more or less predictable: the people are victimized and are forced to seek relief from organizations such as, well, the UN; meanwhile, the oppressors remain in power, and aside from token condemnation statements from other, distant world leaders and from inconsequential bloggers and commentators like us, the regime and the world go on as before.

What I strongly suspect the UN really fears from an armed (and thus encouraged) populace is that the outcome is no longer predictable, nor are the events leading to that outcome or how long they will take to play out. Does the tyrant go ahead with his murderous plans anyway? If so, how does he adapt his tactics to account for an armed opposition? Then, how does the opposition adapt to that? (And on and on and on.) If the opposition somehow gains the upper hand, do they start behaving just as badly as the original tyrant they fought against? Last, but from the UN's perspective certainly not least: Do other nations (or private entities or individuals from outside the country) join one side or the other? Remember that this is how World War I (and also WWII, if you regard it as merely a continuation of WWI) started: A single armed man triggered a chain of events that dragged nation after nation into the bloodiest conflagration the world had ever seen.

Of course, these larger implications aren't likely to matter to a repressed population that just wants to be able to resist a tyrant. If their resistance triggers another world war, so be it - they'll cross that bridge if and when they get there. But the very original purpose of the UN's creation in the first place was to avoid another world war. With the USSR gone, they need to find and exploit be seen to address anything that could even potentially spark another world war, however tangentially, in order to remain relevant. Considering how the first world war started, international gun control seems almost tailor-made for this purpose.
2.25.2007 12:07pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
When people are discouraged from confronting their oppressors (by a lack of arms, fear of reprisals or what have you), the outcome is more or less predictable: the people are victimized and are forced to seek relief from organizations such as, well, the UN

This of course, assumes that the "people", whoever they might be, will have the wherewithal to resist even if arms are freely available. Look at Africa. Even if arms were freely available, the corrupt governments and the warlords who are funded by blood diamonds and oil are going to be the ones who are going to be able to afford them. Most people won't be able to afford an AK-47 or an RPG, let alone the ammunition for it. The whole system just descends into a endless cycle of violence.

A few months ago Dave suggested that the solution to the Darfur problem was to arm the refugees. What kind of insanity is that? You can't eat bullets.
2.25.2007 3:53pm
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):
J.F. Thomas-

The whole system just descends into a endless cycle of violence.

So is that worse than one side being exterminated? And there are plenty of cases of civil wars being resolved eventually - see the US Civil War.

A few months ago Dave suggested that the solution to the Darfur problem was to arm the refugees. What kind of insanity is that? You can't eat bullets.

What kind of insanity is watching innocent people get slaughtered because you have an irrational fixation with gun control?

And their refugee status to a large degree is a result of them being disarmed. If they were armed they might still have their land and would be able to support themselves. If they were armed now possibly they could keep their food aid from being stolen and possibly prevent the women from being raped whenever they get caught outside the refugee camps.
2.25.2007 4:47pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Look at Africa. Even if arms were freely available, the corrupt governments and the warlords who are funded by blood diamonds and oil are going to be the ones who are going to be able to afford them.
It's not an "even if." Arms are always freely available to the government, and the UN approach (for obvious reasons) is based upon the notion that this is okay.
Most people won't be able to afford an AK-47 or an RPG, let alone the ammunition for it. The whole system just descends into a endless cycle of violence.
Amazing. You manage to contradict yourself in the course of two sentences. How can the weapons lead to an "endless" cycle of violence if one side can't even afford ammunition, let alone guns? Which is it?
A few months ago Dave suggested that the solution to the Darfur problem was to arm the refugees. What kind of insanity is that? You can't eat bullets.
No, but you can eat the food you're able to grow/gather/raise while protected by bullets.
2.25.2007 4:50pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
Someohow this is all America and George Bush's fault. AT least, that is what I have ascertained from reading some of these comments.

The way I see it, you have the intersection of two things that you can guarantee will result in bad things: U.N. involvement and gun control. When the honest people have no guns, the criminals run rampant in full confidence (see, e.g. Canada, Great Britian, Netherlands, etc). And, you have to be a stone cold ignoramus, or one with a gift of extremem short-term memory to think that the U.N. will ever do anything helpful. (See e.g. Congo, Darfur, Balkans, Tsunami relief, Oil for Food, etc.)
2.25.2007 6:39pm
Hattio (mail):
Okay,
Before I post about the specifics, I'll just say that though I generally lean left, I'm considerably to the right on gun control. To the point that I question whether a felon should lose their right to own a gun forever.
Now, on to the main point. Most here are focusing on gun control leading to the extermination of a population. What they are ignoring is the endless cycles of violence and civil war that have occurred in some African countries as a result of easily available arms. The more guns are available, the less support you need from the population to keep an armed resistance going. You just "recruit" 8 or 9 year olds (often by killing their parents), and by 12 or 13 they are helping you fight the battle. None of this really changes my position, but it's not as if the history of guns/no guns is clearly on one side or the other.
2.25.2007 7:05pm
Hattio (mail):
As an aside, just giving the general population will probably not prevent the armed rebels from going in and kidnapping "recruits" to continue their war. The same advantage that armies generally have over guerilla forces and militias (training and preparation) a rebel force is likely to have over a general population. It doesn't matter whether you free up the time to train by taxing to meet your needs, or raiding to meet your needs, the benefits of training still accrue.
2.25.2007 9:38pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Gun control is part of the larger issue of self-defense. I've come across people who oppose any kind of self-defense because they think it contributes to the general level of violence. They believe you should either try to run away or submit—never fight back. This is the idea beyond obligation-to-retreat laws. But liberals are foolish to push this philosophy because the instinct for self-preservation lies at the heart of the human condition.
2.26.2007 2:39am
Ken Arromdee:
Except the U.N. is not advocating genocide, it is attempting to reduce the number of illegal arms in the world.

If the UN advocates genocide and someone does it, the UN is partly responsible for genocide. If the UN advocates gun control and someone does it, the UN is partly responsible for gun control. The question of whether they *are* responsible is different from the question of whether being responsible is bad; pointing out that genocide is worse is irrelevant to the former question.
2.26.2007 9:26am
Colin (mail):
Someohow this is all America and George Bush's fault. AT least, that is what I have ascertained from reading some of these comments.

Are we reading the same comments? The only mention of Bush I see here are people complaining about how the evil left complains about Bush. And virtually all of the comments are blaming the UN, not the US.

The way I see it, you have the intersection of two things that you can guarantee will result in bad things: U.N. involvement and gun control.

Including you.

When the honest people have no guns, the criminals run rampant in full confidence (see, e.g. Canada, Great Britian, Netherlands, etc).

What are you talking about? Has Canada turned into a Mad Max-style gangland when I wasn't looking?

And, you have to be a stone cold ignoramus, or one with a gift of extremem short-term memory to think that the U.N. will ever do anything helpful.

Or maybe you just have to not drink the partisan Kool-Aid. I was curious and wanted an easily citeable document, so I hit up Wikipedia. I found a 2005 Rand report concluding that the UN was "successful in two out of three peacekeeping efforts." And when compared with the US, "of eight U.N. cases, seven are at peace, whereas of eight U.S. cases, four are at peace, and four are not or not-yet-at peace."

I have no idea how reliable the study is; I barely skimmed it. But it's ridiculous to pretend that the UN hasn't had any successes, or that everything it touches turns to crap. Kopel's post makes some interesting points, and has sparked a useful discussion. Do you really feel the need to drag it down with empty rhetoric and slogans?
2.26.2007 10:19am
godfodder (mail):
These are questions that lack easy answers, thats for sure. It does seem to me that a distinction needs to be drawn between the role of guns in "First World" societies versus their role in Third World societies. In countries with a long history of the rule of law, there is much less need for an armed citizenry. We are lucky enough to have regulations, laws and courts that actually work, so we can settle disputes peacefully.

This is emphatically not the case in many Third World nations. In some places, a gun is the law. And the only way for the general population to "establish" its rights is through the credible threat of force. Of course, this is less than ideal, and nobody likes to live this way, but the alternatives are worse. If you disarm the citizenry, you probably reduce the overall level of violence, but that is only because one side of the "civil war" has lost. The net result is that all the suffering occurs to one side-- the unarmed citizenry-- and not to both sides.

Peace (i.e. the lack of organized, armed conflict) can be achieved when one side loses a civil war, but is that peace worth sacrificing everything for? Is it the highest good? Is it worth sacrificing everything you own? Your freedom? Your dignity? Your security? Your family? Your life? Those questions are not abstract, mental exercises for hundreds of millions of people around the world.
2.26.2007 12:23pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
Please name me a few of those "successful" U.N. peacekeeping missions from the Rand report. I'd like to see what I am missing, because I can't think of one.

Empty rhetoric and slogans? What slogans are they? I named specific instances. Perhaps you should go see what has been going on in the U.K., where no criminal feels the need to break into a house anymore. ALl they have to do is knock. And, if you shoot them and defend yourself, you'll be the one arrested.

If I didn't have the bar exam this week, I'd research some examples for you.

I guess I need to stop reading right-wing websites and open up my mind to the wonders of the United Nations and gun control.
2.26.2007 1:43pm
Colin (mail):
Then seconds of Googling found this State Dept. memorandum citing UN successes in Mozambique, El Salvador, Cambodia, and Namibia. If you really don't believe that peacekeeping has worked anywhere - if you've bought so completely into the idea of the UN as a global Leviathan wreaking doom and suffering in every innocent heart - then yeah, you probably do need to lay off the right-wing websites. You can oppose gun control and the United Nations without buying into ridiculous stereotypes and mischaracterizations, you know...
2.26.2007 7:01pm
libertarian soldier (mail):
Yes, and those were five of the smallest UNPKO the UN has tried to perform, and they succeeded (except for Namibia, to a degree) only after years--or decades--of wars in those countries has exhausted the participants. In countries such as Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, or the Mano River Union countries, either the conflicts are still going on or the current situation is an unsustainable pause enforced by Chapter VII actions which are only gooduntil the next round. The presence of the UN forces only serves as a short term bandage. And then there are the UN operations still going on after decades--Western Sahara, UNTSO, UNIFIL--or which ended and are having to gear up for a second round--Central African Republic, Chad, Somalia again.
OBTW, to go back on thread, I think bad guys in most places, and certainly in Africa, are going to have guns. Trying to disarm the populace results in disarming the law abiding elements only, thus leaving them vulnerable to be preyed on by the bad guys.
2.27.2007 12:24am
Colin (mail):
All valid arguments, so far as I'm aware. And proof of my point, to boot - you can oppose the UN and gun control without making extreme and baseless accusations.
2.27.2007 9:25am