WASHINGTON, DC -- An allied military plan to confiscate weapons in Iraq may destabilize the nation further by giving the green light to street thugs and Baath Party loyalists who are terrorizing innocent civilians, says the Libertarian Party.
"Imposing this gun grab is like declaring war on Iraq for a second time," said Geoffrey Neale, Libertarian Party chairman. "How many innocent men, women and children will be kidnapped, robbed or murdered because their U.S. 'protectors' turned self-defense into a crime?"
Iraqi citizens will be forced to surrender their heavy weapons under a proclamation expected this week from U.S. and British forces. The goal, allied commanders say, is to stabilize the war-torn nation by confiscating arms such as AK-47s, grenades and machine guns wielded by criminal gangs, paramilitary groups and remnants of Saddam Hussein's government.
The demand for gun confiscation rests on the breathtakingly naïve belief that criminals -- whether in Iraq, the United States or anywhere else -- will obediently turn in their weapons, Neale added.
"If Saddam's henchmen wanted to surrender their guns to an occupying army they would have done so already," he said. "And if criminal gangs don't comply with laws against looting, murder and kidnapping they certainly won't comply with a new gun regulation.
"This weapons ban will just make all of their jobs easier by disarming their potential victims."
Though Iraqis will be permitted to keep small arms at home for protection, the heavier, soon-to-be-banned weapons may also be necessary for self-defense in the postwar mayhem, Libertarians point out.
"Why should Iraqi civilians have less of a right to choose their weapons than allied troops have to choose their weapons?" Neale asked. "To the authorities who arrogantly claim that Iraqis don't 'need' an assault gun or a grenade, we say: Why don't you surrender your assault guns and grenades? If you really believe Iraqi citizens will be safer living under this gun control edict, set an example by complying with your own law."
The demand for the gun ban is actually a stark admission that occupation forces have failed in their most important, post-war mission of protecting the population, Neale said.
"Let's not punish innocent men, women and children for the U.S. military's inability to secure the peace," he said. "Wouldn't it be a tragedy if Iraqis who survived the horrors of Saddam Hussein became casualties of the U.S. government's gun grab?"