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Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Massacres, Here and Abroad


With mass shootings come calls for gun control. It’s become a predictable response.

Never mind that there was gun control at the site of the latest massacre at that public school in Florida. It’s against the law to carry an AR-15 onto public schools in Florida. That’s a gun-control measure. Its aim is to prevent killings at public schools. At the risk of belaboring the obvious, it didn’t work. That’s because the shooter chose to violate it.

The gun control crowd exclaims, “But if we would just expand the gun-control law to encompass not just the school but also the city, county, state, and nation, then there would be no more such killings.

Big problem: If shooters are willing to violate gun-control laws on public-school campuses, then why wouldn’t they do the same with a gun-control law covering a wider geographic area?

The gun-control crowd responds, “Well, if we could just wipe out all AR-15s in the country, the shooters wouldn’t be able to use them to kill people. Just look at North Korea, where everyone is disarmed and where there are no mass shootings.”

Good luck with that, especially given the millions of guns owned by Americans and others around the world. Have you seen the results of the federal government’s decades-long drug war? Apply those results to a war on guns. A North Korean-type gun-control measure will produce another violent black market, one in which killers will be able to purchase illegal guns to use against everyone else who is complying with the law. Equally important, disarming the citizenry would leave Americans vulnerable to the same type of tyrannical regime that North Korea has or, for that matter, like any tyrannical regime that the Pentagon and CIA have installed into power, like in Chile, Egypt, Iran, Guatemala, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

So, does that mean nothing can be done to prevent these mass killings?

No. That’s not what it means. Something can be done. It’s just that all too many Americans are just not yet ready to embrace the solution.

One thing that can be done is to separate school and state, including the repeal of school compulsory attendance laws. Public schooling has become such a permanent part of American life that no one notes something important about the victims of this week’s shooting: They were all forced by the law to be there — in a mandatory gun-free zone. If they don’t show up to the state’s schools, their parents go to jail.

Most kids adjust to the coercive apparatus of public schooling. They become submissive and passive, much like draftees in the Army. But public-school coercion is not a natural phenomenon. It’s a state-initiated one. There are some kids that just don’t respond well to coercion. It screws them up. It angers them. It fills some with rage, like it may well have done with the latest mass killer.

Thus, the second-best thing that Americans could ever do is to end this horrific, abusive system that is based on state violence. Coercion and education are opposites. Public (i.e., government) schooling doesn’t educate. It indoctrinates and converts children into passive, submissive, compliant, obedient, regimented citizens, ones who, when they become adults, don’t dare to question authority, especially with respect to the mass killings that their government commits in foreign countries. And it screws up the minds of others.

The best thing Americans could ever do to end killing sprees here is to end the U.S. government’s killing sprees abroad. Just stop them by immediately bringing all U.S. forces and CIA agents home.

Sure, everywhere cares about those 17 students who were killed this week. I mean, everyone here in the United States cares.

But who cares about the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children who were killed by the U.S. sanctions during the 1990s? Who cares that the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations declared that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions were worth it?

Who cares about the hundreds of thousands of more Iraqis who have been killed in the Persian Gulf War and the Iraq War? It seems to me that lots of people, including church ministers, public school principals and schoolteachers, and sports announcers, profusely thank the U.S. government for protecting our “rights and freedoms” by killing all those Iraqis, notwithstanding the fact that Iraq never attacked the United States and tried to take away our rights and freedoms.

Who cares about the multitudes of people who U.S. forces have killed in Afghanistan, 99 percent of whom had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks? That includes the many wedding parties that have suffered the brunt of U.S. missiles, killing brides, grooms, flower girls, bridesmaids, parents, and others, none of them had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks.

Who cares about the many people who have been killed as part of the Pentagon’s and CIA’s formal assassination program? Those assassinations continue on a regular basis and there is barely a peep of protest. Most everyone just keeps blindly thanking them for “their service.”

Who cares about the many people in Iraq and Afghanistan who are killed by suicide bombers on a regular basis as a result of the chaos produced by the U.S. invasions of both countries?

Very few Americans care. There is a reason for that. The people who are being killed over there are not Americans. They are foreigners. If an ambush succeeded in killing 2,000 U.S. troops in the Middle East or Afghanistan, Americans would suddenly care. They might even start demanding an end to the federal government’s killing spree abroad.

Since it’s only foreigners who are being killed, the idea has always been that Americans need not concern themselves with what the U.S. national-security establishment — i.e., the Pentagon and the CIA — are doing abroad. The idea has always been that so long as all the death and destruction is over there, there would be no impact here at home. Just keep giving them more money and let them do whatever they want over there, killing as many people as they want.

The problem, however, arises when a person’s mindset is a bit off-kilter, perhaps from having been subjected to 12 long years in government schools, as this week’s killer was. That type of person might not be able to distinguish between foreigners and Americans. His mind might cause him to think about everyone as just people, independent of nationalities. In his off-kilter mind, since it is no big deal for the U.S. government to kill people abroad, it shouldn’t be any big deal for him to kill people here at home.

Therefore, in his mind, killing 17 American students is really no different in principle from killing 17 Iraqi children or 17 members of an Afghan wedding party or wiping out every North Korean family with nuclear fire and fury. For him and his off-kilter mind, it all might well be the same.

That’s what all too many Americans simply do not want to confront: that the U.S. government’s interventionist death machine and its 16 years of forever wars — really have had an impact on America after all — not just in terms of the out-of-control spending and debt that is sending our nation into bankruptcy, and not just by terrorist retaliatory blowback, but also by inducing those with off-kilter minds here at home to engage in the same type of killing spree that the Pentagon and the CIA have engaged in and continue to engage in over there.

After all, consider Switzerland, where every family is armed to the teeth. They have public schooling there too, just like here, undoubtedly producing at least a few off-kilter people. But they don’t have the mass killings that are found here in the United States.

The difference? The Swiss government is not killing people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Africa, Yemen, and elsewhere. It doesn’t defend the country by going abroad and killing people. It defends the country by staying at home.

Americans need to ask themselves some important questions: Are these forever wars really worth it? Are all those foreign military bases really worth it? Is foreign interventionism really worth it? Are assassinations, torture, and indefinite detention really worth it? Indeed, is a totalitarian, Cold War-era national-security state governmental apparatus really worth it?

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.