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a weapon. As subsequent history would
prove, it was even more dangerous to be
without one.
China
Like Hitler and Stalin, Mao Tse-tung
found gun prohibition already in place
when he came to power. A 1912 Chinese
law banned the importation or possession
of rifles, cannons, or explosives without
a permit. It was not until eight years after
Mao seized control of the government in
Peking that the National People’s Con-
gress enacted a law in 1957 banning the
manufacture, repair, purchase, or posses-
sion of any firearm or ammunition “in
contravention of safety provisions.”
Secure in the belief that “power comes
from the barrel of a gun,” Chairman Mao
saw to it that the nation’s gun barrels were
collected in the hands of officials loyal
to him and his totalitarian regime. The
number of the powerless who perished,
meanwhile, defies calculation. “While
many scholars agree that about one mil-
lion people were murdered during the
Cultural Revolution (1966-1976),” wrote
Kopel, “the number of people who were
starved to death by Mao’s communization
of the economy from 1957 to 1960 (‘the
Great Leap Forward’) might be as low as
one million, or as high as thirty million.”
Cambodia
When the communist Khmer Rouge forces
dethroned the government of Pol Pot in
Cambodia in 1975, much of the population
had already been disarmed since the days
of the French occupation. Many of those
who did have weapons were persuaded to
surrender them to the new regime, which
had promised to protect them from the
violence and oppression that had charac-
terized the previous government. Many
surrendered their weapons; many more
surrendered their lives. Imposing a geno-
cidal tyranny on an unarmed population,
the communist government killed about
a third of Cambodia’s six million people
before its reign of death had run its course.
A “Peaceful World”
The bitter experience of the nations cited
here offers a shocking but far from com-
plete chronicle of government-inspired and
-
orchestrated massacres of the past hundred
years. Mass graves around the world are
filled with the remains of those who trusted
in promises of peace and protection in ex-
change for weapons of self-defense. Guns
in the hands of the people can be danger-
ous weapons. A monopoly of firepower in
the hands of power-seeking government
officials is more dangerous and far more
deadly. Placing control of all weapons in
the hands of an international institution like
the United Nations, trusting in its “peace-
keeping” forces to guard our lives and liber-
ties, would be sheer and utter folly.
The United Nations blueprint for world
disarmament is already in place, outlined
in documents like
Freedom From War:
The United Nations Program for General
and Complete Disarmament in a Peaceful
World
and
A World Effectively Controlled
by the United Nations
,
both of which were
prepared by our own State Department in
the early 1960s. The UN campaign for a
small arms treaty to impose legal restric-
tions on small arms and light weapons sug-
gests that the international tribunal seeks
control over civilian as well as military
weapons — all weapons, that is, except
those required for a global police force.
Ironically, those State Department docu-
ments were written and submitted not long
after the UN had made a travesty of its mis-
sion in a part of the not very peaceful world
known as Katanga in the Congo. Eyewit-
ness reports from the area told of UN forces
firing on a hospital and Red Cross vehicles.
In the midst of that chaos, the following ap-
peared in American newspapers:
The battle for Elisabethville explod-
ed into full war today, with casualties
estimated in excess of 1,000. The UN
declared martial law and … Michel
Tombelaine of France, deputy UN
civilian commander, announced over
the UN controlled radio that any ci-
vilians found in illegal possession of
arms will be summarily executed.
Someday, perhaps, the world will be filled
with peaceful people — once they have
been “summarily executed.” Americans
may be spared such a fate in our own land
if we are vigilant to preserve the advantage
described by James Madison: “the advan-
tage of being armed, which the Americans
[
still] possess over the people of almost
every other nation.
n
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He learned from history:
Mao knew the devastation that could be wrought by a ragtag group that
had access to arms — his communists successfully took control of China after the Russians gave
them captured Japanese weapons — so he wasn’t going to allow access to guns in China.
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