Here in the U.S., our Constitution gives every American the right to bear arms. While the Constitution says nothing about licensing, we have learned that licensing is a necessity to keep arms out of the wrong hands. It's not foolproof, as criminals know. But, licensing does stem the flow of arms into the wrong hands.
Is America more violent since licensing? Yes. But, violence has grown in America in proportion to the growth of population and the manufacture of weapons. Imagine what life would be like here if there was no gun licensing?
Does Iraq's current situation come to mind?
In Iraq, tribes, militias, private citizens, and gangs are armed to the teeth. Danger and death are daily threats for innocent civilians. No one can argue about the need to protect one's family. After all, this was the primary reason behind our own "right to bear arms". Guns were used to hunt and to protect in early America.
Iraq can be compared to the founding of our country. It took years for us to realize that our citizens would never give up their guns. As a compromise, licensing was instituted. Now, this is not to start a debate over "gun control". That debate will continue to rage in this country for years to come. Rather, this is merely to point out what Iraq needs to do to stem random violence and sectarian killing.
The Iraqi government needs to begin the process of licensing, soon. Let the people keep their weapons but make registration mandatory. Now, this should not include registration of RPG's (rocket propelled grenades), shoulder-mounted missiles, and the like, but, at some point, they need to begin the process of "search and seizure" of these mass-killing weapons. They are doing that now in connection with a crackdown on militias, terrorists, and common criminals. The average citizen should be next.
It will be up to the Iraqi government, not you or I, to determine what is "illegal". It's their call. It's their country. We cannot fathom their history of armed tribes and sectarianism. There are a multitude of religious leaders with their own small armies. It has been that way since the fall of Iraq. Can we blame them for wanting to protect themselves and their families during the chaos that followed? But, that time has passed. The new Iraqi security forces are nearly ready to take over and ensure the peace so that the Coalition can send their troops home.
Of course, I realize it won't be easy and that such a move will launch a debate over gun control in Iraq. Welcome to Democracy! Welcome to a free people deciding their own destiny, not at the point of a gun, rather with a Constitution and the Rule of Law as the new weapons of choice.
It will continue to be a struggle. Nothing great was ever accomplished by a weak people. The Iraqi's who do not falter will win the day for their nation, not the U.S., not the Coalition. We can only stand behind them to support them until they can do it without us. And, I believe, they will. The first step is weapon registration.