There is no shortage of historical examples of tyrants using gun control to facilitate the brutalization of a population. The Third Reich used firearm restrictions to control their political enemies and the countries they occupied. The communist countries of the Warsaw Pact tightly controlled or outlawed civilian access to arms. In China, as the Law Library of Congress has noted, “the Firearms-Control Law generally prohibits any private possession of firearms.”
Following in the footsteps of other totalitarian regimes, the newly-empowered Taliban has taken to disarming Afghan civilians as one of its first orders of business. The Afghan capital of Kabul fell to the Islamist militants on August 15. By August 16, the Taliban was already confiscating civilian firearms.
A Reuters item from the 16th explained,
Taliban fighters in the Afghan capital, Kabul, started collecting weapons from civilians on Monday because people no longer need them for personal protection, a Taliban official said.
"We understand people kept weapons for personal safety. They can now feel safe. We are not here to harm innocent civilians," the official told Reuters.
The Taliban’s fear of an armed populace is understandable. Prior to the U.S. invasion in 2001, the extremist group ruled over the country with an iron fist. The population was routinely abused for failing to live up to the Taliban’s religious edicts with public punishments including, beheadings, stonings, and dismemberment.
There are recent reports that the militants are already going door-to-door seeking out their political adversaries. Reuters reported that in the city of Jalalabad the Taliban opened fire on protesters attempting to replace the group’s flag with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan flag, killing three. Other reports described a scene where women and children were beaten bloody outside the Kabul airport.
Like other despots, the Taliban understands that firearms are a means to political power. Thankfully, in the U.S., those means and power are held with the citizenry. All those who support a free society should work to ensure it remains there.