The War on Drugs is sputtering to the end as governments wake up to the fact that spending billions on something that doesn’t work and creates vast criminal enterprises, simply isn’t worth it. 

In the US in State after State, laws outlawing cannabis are falling like dominoes. In the Philippines where the War on Drugs is being fought its hardest and most ruthlessly, there has only been a one percent difference in the amount of methamphetamine.

Here we have the amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act which makes it so that the police can’t prosecute unless it’s in the public interest to do so, effectively decriminalising all personal drug use and possession. 

What has this got to do with guns? Both gun laws and drug laws are about managing risk. Both guns and drugs present a risk to self and others. Sometimes this risk is so unacceptable that it warrants criminal penalties. For example, waving a gun in a crowded shopping mall. Or presenting an immediate danger because you’re jacked to the eyeballs on meth in a public place. Most of the time though, provided you have adequate regulations in place, the risk is insignificant.

So how do you manage risk?

One approach is the “harm reduction” (actually risk reduction) approach where you’re allowed for instance to own a gun but there are regulations you must follow. These regulations are there not to penalise but to reduce risk.

The other approach is the prosecutorial approach where the mere fact that someone possesses a thing is considered to pose such a risk that criminal sanctions are required. This is the approach that until recently has been taken with regards to drugs.

And up until recently with regards to guns the risk reduction approach had been taken.

I say up until recently because about a week ago a family man who can be described as conservative had his home raided as if he was a hardcore drug lord. His crime? Stating in a public written submission against the Firearms Amendment Act that he owned a gun – one made to kill rabbits and one that at that time was still legal.

How did we get to this point?

Short answer: The Christchurch mass shooting.

There have always been those opposed to guns and who think all guns should be banned. Christchurch gave these people something they could pin their cause to. 

But even a mass shooting isn’t enough to win a war on guns. In order for a law to be enforceable, you need the consent of those governed.

Most people don’t use illicit drugs and most people don’t own a gun. And in normal circumstances, most people wouldn’t care if you owned a gun or did a bit of weed now and then so long as you did so responsibly and paid all your own bills. 

So what to do? 

You divide and demonise. You use phrases like “far right”. You get control of the narrative so you can manipulate the public into believing that all gun owners are dangerous fanatics. 

This is how drug prohibition managed to survive for so long and it is what will happen if the gun lobby isn’t vigilant.

If you look at the media articles and social media posts that attempt to justify the police raid mentioned above not one of them have been about the risk the gun the cops were looking for represented. Not one. All of them have been attempts at demonisation.

It won’t matter that you’re a conservative family man. Most licensed gun owners are responsible (probably more responsible than the general population). You will be seen by the general public as a dangerous fanatic just because of the fact that you own a gun.

And this is why the gun lobby must not at any cost let the anti-gun lobby, the media, get control of the narrative. 

Ever.