My Turn: To end violence, declare war on wars

Last modified: 1/1/2016 11:30:26 PM
The war on (some) drugs isn’t a war on chemicals. In fact, the taboo molecules are now much more abundant. Without the war on drugs, contaminated street cocaine and heroin would long ago have been replaced by safer products from Novartis and Bayer. There would also be much less addiction. Portugal and Switzerland have proved addicts can be cured when treatment is available without the threat of prison.

The war on drugs is a war on people, specifically poor people.

The well-off are free to use “Adderall” (aka amphetamine), or OxyContin (same mechanism of action as heroin). Poor people using the same chemicals have their pets shot and stun grenades thrown into their living rooms, then serve long prison terms because of lack of legal representation. Some laws openly state that poor people get longer sentences – for example the scientifically nonsensical differences in sentencing for “crack” cocaine versus powder.

The war on guns is also a war on people. Wealthy people have armed guards, live in gated communities with private security and get carry permits even in “gun control” states. Gun control laws don’t affect either criminals or the wealthy. They only affect law-abiding working people, the people who are the fabric of civil society.

Just as drugs don’t cause addiction, guns don’t cause violence. There are assault rifles in Swiss homes, yet Switzerland is one of the most peaceful places on Earth. The Swiss have deterred foreign war for two centuries, and have one of the lowest homicide rates in the world.

The states with the lowest homicide rates are New Hampshire and Vermont, which have few gun laws and many gun owners and concealed carriers.

The absence of guns doesn’t prevent mass murder. Many of the estimated 1,174,000 victims of the 1994 Rwandan genocide were killed with machetes. The 1930s gun control laws on Germany’s Jews helped enable the Holocaust. All the slaughters in millennia of ancient history were carried out with bladed weapons.

Anyone with access to the internet and a Wal-Mart can make high explosives, IEDs, Livens Projectors, even drones. Anyone can go to a farm-supply store and get materials for chemical weapons. Anyone with a kitchen blender and a Fisher-Price educational toy can make gene-engineered viruses. 3D printers can print out any desired device in stainless steel. Human intent alone changes productive tool into destructive weapon.

The difference between guns and other weapons is not that guns are particularly powerful. They aren’t. The difference is that a gun can be used defensively.

Inanimate objects don’t cause violence. Culture, society and centralized power that institutionalize violence make a nation into a Rwanda instead of a Switzerland.

Violence in our country comes from our institutions, funded by our taxes.

The war on drugs is nothing more than institutionalized violence against the poor. Simply ending the war on drugs would have the same effect that came with the end of the Volstead Act. Prohibition was hardly “noble,” but it was a conclusive “experiment.” When the 18th Amendment was repealed in 1933, the murder rate fell.

The drug war creates the career path of drug dealer for inner-city youth. It causes high drug prices that drive addicts to street crime. Those same high drug prices are subsidies to terrorist organizations.

The IEDs that kill American soldiers in Afghanistan are bought with Taliban opium profits – profits that would disappear the day drugs were legalized. The Fort Bragg-trained “Zetas” that slaughter tens of thousands in Mexico, the FARC in Colombia, various Central American gangsters – all are funded by drug war “price supports.”

The drug war merges seamlessly into another institutionalized-violence program: our unending, undeclared, often aggressive foreign wars. The recent killings at San Bernardino, the 2009 killings at Fort Hood and other terrorist violence are blowback from foreign interventions.

Ending the war on drugs would save thousands of lives and tens of billions per year. Ending the undeclared foreign wars would save hundreds of billions of dollars per year and reduce the risk of blundering into World War III.

We don’t need a war on drugs, or guns or other inanimate objects.

We need a war on wars.



(Bill Walker is a member of the Sullivan County Republican committee. He works for medical-imaging database company M2S in West Lebanon.)




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