Last week's column on carnage in our cities prompted this thoughtful, illuminating missive from Illinois attorney and novelist Robert Isham Auler, author of the forthcoming thriller "Keep and Bear Arms" (Mayhaven):
Some good insight in your column about the problem of violence in the cities. But the solution, if available at all, will not be found in the neo-fascism necessary to start a "war on guns" that would make the "war on drugs" seem highly successful. And the DEA, FBI and SWAT teams of today will seem like ACLU acolytes.
If Southerners are raised in a tradition of pride and retribution, it is a pale ... shadow of the macho of the inner city black and Latino, or even Russian or post-military youth, dying for the gang or the family honor or the "Rambo" image ... "Don't push me around, chump" is fed by rap and NBA and street corner "turf" concepts. Little wonder these kids take umbrage in casual encounters with those they have been told are their oppressors.
There are 400 million guns out there! How ... are you [ever] going to collect those? Door to door searches? Dig up the backyards of every house in the small towns and farms? That's where they will be hidden. If you want an end to civil liberties in America, give the cretins another free ticket to Constitution-burning and you'll turn every rural enclave into an Idaho watching for black helicopters and buying books on Waco and fertilizer bombs. ...
Think about it – drugs have to be imported; they are a consumable. Firearms are already here and don't have a pinch-point at the border, not that this does any measurable good in the "war on drugs" or three such wars all declared by three administrations, none resulting in claims of victory. In the last 50 years, all we have done is occasionally raise the price of drugs, making the criminals even richer. Movies like "Scarface" and the black exploitation things going back to "Shaft" document this reality. Nobody is winning those wars on drugs. All we do is generate the cash to corrupt the cops – and make us lawyers rich.
I sat in rural Tuscola yesterday, waiting for a docket call of at least 150 defendants, most of whom were there on dope charges of one kind or another. I talked with a buddy, a small-town prosecutor for years, and we both agreed that we were witnessing a senseless and stupid ceremony, that nothing would be accomplished by hanging felonies on plowboys for smoking dope or ruining their lives with meth. And if you think we were alone, ask any of the lawyers scurrying around, making the weekly rent. But if you want a full employment scheme for unborn hordes of lawyers, fatten up the hunting with a new wave of gun laws!
Guns aren't smoked into ashes when they are used. They get cleaned and wait for another use. Or sold. Or stolen – via break-ins, night burglary, home invasion. The shell casings are routinely reloaded with bullets that can be cast in any basement. Go to a gun show; see the reloading kits currently on the shelf for people who love shooting – ordinary blue-collar people for whom this kind of technology is simpler than changing the oil in the family car and putting in new spark plugs. Powder is commercially available, and the chemical sophistication to make it could take the meth-chemists into a new era of diversification and prosperity in every small town.
All you do is raise the price of guns already here. That's been proven over and over – banning anything the people want just revives all the dynamics of prohibition.
Finally – and living in the city, [perhaps] you don't perceive this – making guns is startlingly simple. Every small town has several machine shops. Making serviceable and modern pistols, rifles, assault weapons or shotguns is a high-school-shop-level project! The current lathes, laser measuring devices and machine tools can turn any junkyard into an arsenal if the price is right. Any skilled machinist can do it in his sleep, not to mention tool and dye makers! ...
There are literally hundreds of millions of empty shell casings lying around, not to mention the ease of casting new ones ... a skill that Bronze Age man mastered. The result would be all the guns anybody wanted, only more expensive and more dangerously constructed.
Years ago, "60 Minutes" did a Mike Wallace piece on the weapons makers in Peshawar, Pakistan. These guys sit on the ground around a blacksmith forge with drill presses from the 19th century and turn out AK-47s that shoot just fine, thank you. It's a place you can get replicated – by eye! They don't need lasers and machine tools – any weapon you can bring for a model.
Are the spit-kickers of the American small towns less intelligent? They can make all the parts to restore a 57 Chevy out of thin air and memory. Surely you remember the zip guns of the West Side Story era. For better or worse, we married into guns.
Even if we had the Angel of Life grab them all without it becoming Brave New World, we would still have the macho culture that would go out and manufacture machetes. Imagine what five of those could do in the average high school cafeteria.
I share everybody's Nirvana dream, but the real world won't contain this thing. It's in our blood. So maybe we better try to deal with it in a realistic way instead of crying out for the government to "save" us. They always jump at the opportunity, of course, and never deliver!
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What's his new book about? "Beyond a courtroom thriller, 'Keep and Bear Arms' examines the legal and social passions of post-9/11 America: vanishing civil liberties, vigilante reaction to immigrants, Homeland Security turf wars and the warp in the justice system," he responds. "Can simple fairness survive? A five-car collision of ideals and realities. A book for thinking people who are not interested in a high body count."
We appreciate his compelling perspective.
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