Fear to boost the surveillance state

The current attempts to stoke fear and hatred of gun owners bear a strong resemblance to the ongoing efforts to convince us that we’re in constant, imminent danger from Muslims. The purpose is the same: to get us to accept more governmental intrusion into our lives. The effectiveness will be about the same. Biden’s “universal, total background checks” would have had absolutely no effect on Adam Lanza. One can argue whether or not he “stole” the guns he used, since they were his mother’s and were in the same household, but he didn’t buy them. More generally, people who are planning mass murder aren’t deterred by the legality of how they get their weapons. People who would legally defend themselves are the ones who are deterred.

The New York Journal News‘s stunt of publishing the names and addresses of gun owners provides an example of trying to draw hatred to a segment of the population, though in this case it backfired on them. I read a news story about a burglary that may have been facilitated by the list, though I can’t find the URL now; the burglar appeared to be going after the weapon in the home, though the attempt was unsuccessful. This attempt to stigmatize gun owners isn’t very different from the attacks on the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” in New York. Find an “other,” stir up fear and hatred. It’s an old recipe.

New York’s new gun law puts gun owners at risk of having their property confiscated without due process if they’re having therapy and the therapist reports them as dangerous:

The most significant new proposal would require mental health professionals to report to local mental health officials when they believe that patients are likely to harm themselves or others. Law enforcement would then be authorized to confiscate any firearm owned by a dangerous patient; therapists would not be sanctioned for a failure to report such patients if they acted “in good faith.”

“People who have mental health issues should not have guns,” Mr. Cuomo told reporters. “They could hurt themselves, they could hurt other people.”

But such a requirement “represents a major change in the presumption of confidentiality that has been inherent in mental health treatment,” said Dr. Paul S. Appelbaum, the director of the Division of Law, Ethics, and Psychiatry at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, who said the Legislature should hold hearings on possible consequences of the proposal.

“The prospect of being reported to the local authorities, even if they do not have weapons, may be enough to discourage patients with suicidal or homicidal thoughts from seeking treatment or from being honest about their impulses,” he said.

This legislation was pushed through without observing the Constitutional requirement for a three-day period between the introduction of a bill and its passage, on the grounds of an emergency situation that Cuomo invented out of thin air. Even the PATRIOT act took six weeks to ram through. By claiming this emergency, Cuomo added to the notion that everyone’s in imminent danger.

Some Democrats have been uncomfortable about the country’s surveillance-state apparatus, which includes secret law and secret proceedings. The stirring up of gun hysteria may help to bring them into line.

In any case, it’s clear that our leaders have lots of aces in reserve if the “War on Terror” runs out of steam. Freedom has become a meaningless buzzword. Americans are obsessed with the pursuit of the illusion of absolute safety from real and imagined threats, and all our leaders have to do is keep waving new bogeymen at us.

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