The following article (with slight differences) was published in the Los Angeles Times and then re-published under the banner PERSPECTIVE ON GUN CONTROL by the Arizona Republic. The following is posted to the Internet with the permission of the author, Joseph Farah, of the Western Journalism Center (see his tagline below). I strongly suggest readers check out their webpage at http://worldnetdaily.com/ from which this article was downloaded. This appears to be a quality accredited news organization with some pretty heavy stuff the mainstream press carefully ignores with malice aforethought.
Friday, August 15, 1997
It's no wonder so many citizens in the West are seeing black helicopters and United Nations plots behind every federal government initiative. It's no wonder Mel Gibson's "Conspiracy Theory" is No. 1 at the box office. We're not paranoid. They really are after us.
Who's "they"? What am I talking about? The last couple of years has witnessed the biggest arms buildup in the history of the federal government. No, I don't mean the Defense Department budget is growing. Far from it. That would actually be Constitutional. It might even make sense.
No. The kind of arms that are proliferating in Washington these days are the kind pointed at our own civilian population and carried by a growing number of federal police forces with ever-larger budgets and ever-deadlier arsenals.
In 1996, alone, at least 2,439 new federal cops were authorized to carry firearms. As a result of that record one-year surge, there are nearly 60,000 armed federal agents representing departments as diverse as the FBI, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Post Office.
The Environmental Protection Agency? That's right. I suspect, most Americans would be shocked to learn that agents of the EPA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Army Corps of Engineers are actually packing heat. Has the protection of spotted owls and kangaroo rats become a matter of life and death? Why do EPA agents need to be armed? Well, if you were in the business of seizing people's personal property in the name of endangered species, you might want to be carrying, too. But, is it wise policy? Is it in the spirit of the Constitution? Where do we draw the line?
A few months ago, Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt tried to arm the Bureau of Land Management, thus forming yet another division of enviro-cops. Only a flurry of controversy sparked by one man, Tom McDonnell of the American Sheep Industry Association, temporarily stalled the move.
Ironically, in justifying its need to carry weapons and exert police authority over its 268 million acres of land in the western states, the BLM had cited the long and growing list of other federal agencies -- like the EPA and Fish and Wildlife -- with criminal law enforcement powers. Following such logic, I figure, it's only a matter of time before officials at the National Endowment for the Arts are authorized to carry guns. Art cops -- is it any harder to believe than enviro-cops?
But the arms proliferation at the federal government level is no joke. Innocent people are dying because of it. Lots more are living in fear of their own government and its virtual standing army of 60,000. Where is the American Civil Liberties Union when you need them?
The founders of this country never envisioned the need for a federal police force. They saw the inherent dangers in such ideas. Recent leaders, like Bill Clinton and George Bush who have overseen this domestic arms buildup, seem to think there are no limits to federal authority, nor government intrusion into our daily lives.
Most of the growth is not, ironically, in the large, traditional agencies such as the FBI. Rather, it is among the agencies you would never guess have anything to do with guns. The ranks of armed enviro-cops, for instance, have soared from 2,471 in 1987 to 4,204 as of last September -- a 70 percent increase. Do you feel safer now?
Experts who have been watching such developments over the last few years say all this is leading one place -- to the establishment of a genuine national police force. You can see it in the way the FBI now routinely interferes in local law enforcement affairs. You can also see it in the plans of big-government architects like Vice President Al Gore, who has urged that Treasury Department police agencies -- such as the Secret Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms -- be placed under the control of the Justice Department.
I've got a better idea. Let's disband BATF. That would be a good start. Then Congress should take a look at this whole issue and re-evaluate the police powers of every single federal agency.
Before our legislators pass one more law restricting the right of law-abiding citizens to carry firearms, much tighter controls need to be placed on the proliferation of guns in government. That would be meaningful gun control -- and Constitutional, too.
Joseph Farah is editor of WorldNetDaily and executive director of the Western Journalism Center, an independent group of investigative reporters.