Gun Ownership in Iraq

I have twice seen the same film clip on CBS news: an Iraqi citizen buying what looks like a machine gun (Kalashnikov), and another citizen trying out a semi-automatic pistol’s slide action. Both times, the voice-over warned of Iraqis preparing to defend themselves.

Nobody mentions the obvious: unless the film clip was staged, Saddam Hussein lets Iraqis buy guns and ammo.

This testifies against the theory that Saddam fears an organized uprising. If he fears assassination — his supposed use of look-alikes in public — he doesn’t fear it enough to impose complete gun control.

He claims that he has no weapons of mass destruction. In a recent article posted on the generally hawkish World Net Daily, physicist Gordon Prather cites long-suppressed evidence from a top Iraqi defector that there are no WMD in Iraq. The defector was General Hussein Kamal. He was Saddam Hussein’s son-in-law. He was assassinated when he later returned to Iraq.

Separately, Kamal was interviewed by Rolf Ekeus, chairman of the U.N. Special Commission on Iraq and Chief Inspector Maurizio Zifferero of the International Atomic Energy Action Team, both established by the U.N. Security Council to implement UNSC disarmament resolutions.

Newsweek has obtained the U.N. document, verified its authenticity and reports in its current issue that Kamal told the same story to the CIA and to the Brits.

Immediately after the Gulf War ceasefire, but before the U.N. inspectors had arrived in Iraq, Kamal said he ordered the destruction of all chemical and biological weapons stocks and the missiles to deliver them. . . .

The UNSCOM-IAEA inspectors — and hence all U.N. Security Council members — have known for at least four years that, as best the U.N. inspectors could subsequently discover, Kamal did tell the truth, when, in response to the question posed by UNSCOM inspector Nikita Smidovich:

Smidovich: Were weapons and agents destroyed?

Kamal: Nothing remained.

Smidovich: Was it before or after inspections started?

Kamal: After visits of inspection teams. You have an important role in Iraq with this. You should not underestimate yourself. You are very effective in Iraq.

So, according to Kamal, himself, not only were all chembio "weapons and agents destroyed", but U.N. inspectors had been "very effective" in ferreting out what the Iraqis had done.

This information was kept secret until Newsweek published it on February 24 of this year. You might think that this story would have been front-page news in every newspaper in the world. It wasn’t.

As I have repeatedly said, the coming war in Iraq isn’t about al-Qaeda. It’s also not about weapons of mass destruction. It’s about the control of the price of oil at the margin and placing U.S. troops in the Middle East to keep the pipelines open.

If Iraq has no WMD, then the invasion should be a cakewalk. But there is a wild card: the willingness and the ability of Iraqis to defend themselves from attack, house by house.

Urban warfare is no picnic if the residents are willing to die, taking an invading soldier with them, one by one. (Unless, of course, the invader uses gas.)

This raises the issue of the distribution of guns in Iraq.


The media’s talking heads constantly cite the government’s accusation that Saddam is another Hitler. In one crucial sense, he is nothing like Hitler. Nazi Germany’s 1938 gun control law was signed into law on March 18, 1938.

The following information is posted on the Web site of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, a pro-Second Amendment organization. If you want to know why there are Jewish supporters of this organization, which has been around a long time, read the following. You may be amazed.

Until 1943-44, the German government published its laws and regulations in the u2018Reichsgesetzblatt,’ roughly the equivalent of the U.S. Federal Register. Carefully shelved by law librarians, the 1938 issues of this German government publication had gathered a lot of dust. In the u2018Reichsgesetzblatt’ issue for the week of March 21, 1938, was the official text of the Weapons Law (March 18, 1938). It gave Hitler’s Nazi party a stranglehold on the Germans, many of whom did not support the Nazis. We found that the Nazis did not invent "gun control" in Germany. The Nazis inherited gun control and then perfected it: they invented handgun control.

The Nazi Weapons Law of 1938 replaced a Law on Firearms and Ammunition of April 13, 1928. The 1928 law was enacted by a center-right, freely elected German government that wanted to curb "gang activity," violent street fights between Nazi party and Communist party thugs. All firearm owners and their firearms had to be registered. Sound familiar? "Gun control" did not save democracy in Germany. It helped to make sure that the toughest criminals, the Nazis, prevailed.

The Nazis inherited lists of firearm owners and their firearms when they u2018lawfully’ took over in March 1933. The Nazis used these inherited registration lists to seize privately held firearms from persons who were not "reliable." Knowing exactly who owned which firearms, the Nazis had only to revoke the annual ownership permits or decline to renew them.

In 1938, five years after taking power, the Nazis enhanced the 1928 law. The Nazi Weapons Law introduced handgun control. Firearms ownership was restricted to Nazi party members and other "reliable" people.

The 1938 Nazi law barred Jews from businesses involving firearms. On November 10. 1938 — one day after the Nazi party terror squads (the SS) savaged thousands of Jews, synagogues and Jewish businesses throughout Germany — new regulations under the Weapons Law specifically barred Jews from owning any weapons, even clubs or knives.

The site goes on to show that the 1938 German law was, passage by passage, copied into the U.S. Gun Control Act of 1968.

The parallels between the Nazi law and GCA u201868 will leap at you from the page. For example, law abiding firearm owners in Illinois, Massachusetts and New Jersey must carry identification cards based on formats from the Nazi Weapons Law.

The article goes on to identify the most likely political suspect in having copied the Nazi’s code into ours. He was a Democrat and a liberal. His son now holds his seat in the Senate. Click through.

Of special interest to Jews is the extension of the gun control law, which was signed into law on November 11, 1938. Historians will recall the previous evening: Kristal night, when the windows of stores owned by Jews were smashed by the Nazis. Highlights of the law include:

#1 Jews (#5 of the First Regulations of the German Citizenship Law of 14 November 1935, Reichsgesetzblatt 1, p. 1332) are prohibited from acquiring, possessing, and carrying firearms and ammunition, as well as truncheons or stabbing weapons. Those now possessing weapons and ammunition are at once to turn them over to the local police authority.

#2 Firearms and ammunition found in a Jew’s possession will be forfeited to the government without compensation.

This story is well known within the Second Amendment movement. It was JPFO’s Aaron Zelman who first gave wide publicity to the 1938-1968 connection. His book translates the 1938 law and then compares it, passage by passage, to the 1968 act.

Needless to say, liberals have not acknowledged the error of their ways in continuing to support the 1968 Act and its subsequent modifications. The 1938-1968 connection has been tossed down the memory hole. But JPFO keeps dredging it back up. The Web now helps keep the story alive.


From what the U.S. media report, citizens of Baghdad are armed. An armed citizenry threatens American troops. For a decade, the U.S. military has trained to deal with urban occupation, but a real-life situation has yet to occur.

If their city is still standing, they may defend their homes from invading forces. If they don’t defend, then some of them may later use their guns to shoot occupying troops. It’s one thing for Iraqis to approve of Saddam’s removal by the U.S. It’s another thing entirely to think that they will submit to long-term occupation of their country by U.S. troops.

There is no democratic tradition in Iraq. The peaceful succession of elected governments is not part of Iraqi tradition.

If Saddam has weapons of mass destruction, he has hidden them well. His son-in-law thought they had been destroyed, we now learn. If they really were destroyed, then casualties to U.S. troops will be imposed by defending troops and armed citizens.

This raises the question of legitimacy. For two centuries, the United States has gained enormous international legitimacy as the world’s beacon of freedom. (Switzerland has freedom, but it is a closed society — closed to immigrants.) This nation has been seen as defending the rights of the oppressed. But an invasion of a nation across the planet and without the ability to inflict damage on this nation will be seen by a billion Muslims and maybe an equal number of non-Muslims as an unwarranted extension of our military power: the reversal of Woodrow Wilson’s heralded right of national self-determination.

Cooperation is not a free resource. It is most inexpensively gained through voluntarism. When it must be coerced, it gets very expensive for the coercer. This is why all empires eventually contract or are overthrown.

The world cooperates with us through market exchange. It also cooperates by allowing U.S. troops inside their borders: an estimated 130 countries. But a pre-emptive strike against a nation that must defend itself from a superpower will not be seen as a legitimate act. If Saddam doesn’t use WMD against us, then the Administration will find itself removed permanently from the high moral ground.

If Saddam doesn’t use WMD, the Administration will lose face. It will be seen as an aggressor nation. If there is widespread armed resistance by Iraqi citizens, it will cost the United States more than the lives of our troops.

At that point, international cooperation will dissipate — not overnight, but steadily. People don’t like bullies. They will take steps to increase their ability to resist.

The Administration will soon be in Catch-22. If our troops enjoy a cakewalk, then the justification for going in — Iraq’s WMD — will evaporate. If Iraq does use WMD (VX gas), then our troops will have a tough time of it. The cost of victory will be higher than in 1991. If citizens resist at the cost of their lives, morale will collapse in the military. Warriors do not gain honor by killing people who are merely defending their homes.


How much money will it cost to win in Iraq? Lawrence Lindsey was the Administration’s senior economic advisor when he estimated $100 billion to $200 billion. Then he was sacked. Career-wise men learn. With no evidence presented, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget now says $50 billion to $60 billion. Here is a New York Times story (Jan. 2).

Bush Administration Official Lowers Estimate of Cost for War With Iraq


WASHINGTON — The administration’s top budget official estimated Monday that the cost of a war with Iraq could be in the range of $50 billion to $60 billion, a figure that is well below earlier estimates from White House officials.

Mitchell Daniels Jr., the director of the Office of Management and Budget, also said that there was likely to be a deficit in the fiscal 2004 budget, though he declined to specify how large it would be. The Bush administration is scheduled to present its budget to Congress on Feb. 3.

Daniels would not provide specific costs for either a long or a short military campaign against Saddam Hussein. But he said the administration was budgeting for both, and that earlier projections of $100 billion to $200 billion in Iraq war costs by Lawrence Lindsey, President Bush’s former chief economic adviser, were too high.

Daniels’ projections place the cost of an Iraq war in line with the 1991 Persian Gulf War, which cost nearly $60 billion, or about $80 billion in current dollars. But the United States paid for only a small portion of that conflict, with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Japan bearing the brunt of the costs. This time, diplomats say, Americans would likely bear most of the costs.

The budget director’s projections Monday served as a corrective to figures put forth by Lindsey in September, when he said that a war with Iraq might amount to 1 percent to 2 percent of the gross domestic product, or $100 billion to $200 billion.

Lindsey was criticized for putting forth such a large number, which helped pave the way for his ouster earlier this month.

According to the most recent report from the Treasury, the Federal budget deficit for fiscal 2003 is $97.6 for the first four months. A year ago, the figure was a surplus of $8.4 billion. (AP story, Feb. 24).

The war has not yet begun.

There are lots of predictions about the de-stabilization of Arab governments if the U.S. invades. I don’t pretend to know how accurate these forecasts are. Some things are obvious. Most Muslims are opposed, and these are the people the terrorists recruit.


The stock market will not do well if there is strong resistance in Iraq. The voters are not prepared for a drawn-out war, which would imply civilian resistance. But starving out civilians by quarantining Baghdad will win America no laurels. It will win the undying hostility of a billion Muslims.

Americans expect another 1991. But the price of obtaining this will be the Administration’s loss of legitimacy in the eyes of the world — immediately — and the eyes of swing voters (2004). Another 1991 will mean that there were no WMD. It will mean that the war was about stealing oil and avenging a father’s decision to quit on the battlefield.

Costs somewhere between 1991’s costs and the de-stabilization of the entire region are likely. If costs are low, the President loses legitimacy: "No WMD after all." If they are high, he will also lose legitimacy: "He failed to warn us!" He needs a Goldilocks solution: just right. How many dead American troops are too many? In my view, one. When it comes to the Middle East, and also the Balkans, I concur with Bismarck’s assessment of the Balkans: “Not worth the life of one Pomeranian grenadier.” But I’m obviously an extremist.

March 7, 2003

Gary North is the author of Mises on Money. Visit For a free subscription to Gary North’s twice-weekly economics newsletter, click here.

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