Before being declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election, Joe Biden was unabashed in his support for restricting Second Amendment rights. A lengthy section of his campaign website described his ambitions for new gun control, with headings such as “Keep guns out of dangerous hands” and “Make sure firearm owners take on the responsibility of ensuring their weapons are used safely.” Specific policies he supported included “legislation requiring firearm owners to store weapons safely” and legislation to require gun owners “to inform law enforcement if their weapon is lost or stolen.”
More recently, the administration promised to crack down on gun dealers in the U.S. that “are supplying firearms that show up at crime scenes” and to coordinate with state officials that “take their own steps to shut down dealers that fail to live up to their obligations” to prevent diversion to criminal elements.
Judged by these standards, the Biden administration’s disastrous handling of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan should forever disqualify him from lecturing the rest of the country on “keeping firearms out of dangerous hands.” His bungling of that effort ensured that not just firearms but some of America’s more sophisticated military technology is now available to terrorists and other enemies who are and will continue to use them against Americans, American interests, and American allies.
Whatever one might think of America’s military presence in Afghanistan, it seems axiomatic that reasonable efforts should always be undertaken to ensure that our very own military materiel and armaments are secured against diversion to hostile forces.
It is becoming increasingly clear as the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan continues that none of these safeguards were adequately achieved.
The U.S. recognized government of Afghanistan collapsed almost immediately as American forces withdrew. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and other senior government officials fled the country, and military and police forces offered little resistance as the Taliban quickly established itself as the de facto governing authority.
It was the Taliban which the U.S. toppled from power in Afghanistan following the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and the revelation that the fundamentalist Islamic group had sheltered and enabled Osama bin Laden in his preparation for the most devastating terrorist attack ever on American soil. Their rule had been marked by brutal treatment of anyone who diverged from the Taliban’s religious orthodoxy, with particular emphasis on the subjugation of women.
The New York Times reported that the Afghan military, which the U.S. had spent two decades and $83 billion trying to establish as an effective force, collapsed in days, rather than months or years as U.S. military planners had hoped. Many simply gave up, the paper stated, “with the cause for which they risked their lives appearing increasingly to be lost.”
The Washington Post acknowledged that the Taliban easily “captured many millions, perhaps billions, of dollars worth of U.S. military equipment that had once belonged to Afghan forces.” The haul included not just state-of-the-art small arms but more advanced equipment including armored personnel carriers, drones, helicopters, and night-vision equipment.
Taliban fighters enter a hanger containing a number of helicopters at Kabul airport following the final evacuation of U.S. forces.— GB News (@GBNEWS) August 31, 2021
American troops had reportedly disabled the helicopters before leaving. pic.twitter.com/JIME86zo8H
As the NRA has already reported, on the other hand, the Taliban do not trust ordinary Afghanis with weapons and have already started going door-to-door seizing personally held firearms, ostensibly because Taliban rule will replace the need for personal self-defense.
Yet media and NGO reports indicate that atrocities and war crimes are underway by victorious Taliban forces. These allegedly include executing surrendering Afghan troops, torturing and killing ethnic minorities and government loyalists, persecuting Christians, forcing girls and young women into sexual slavery, and even setting a woman on fire for “bad cooking.”
These activities (and perhaps future terrorist attacks and collaborations with other terrorists groups) are being enabled in part by armaments the Biden administration did not adequately secure before pulling U.S. forces out of the country.
Indeed, one of the horrors that has defined Biden’s incompetent leadership over the fiasco were images of Afghan citizens so panicked by the thought of being left to the Taliban’s depredations that they clung to the outside of departing U.S. aircraft until, inevitably, they fell to their deaths.
Joe Biden has therefore forfeited any credibility or moral authority on the issue of what ordinary Americans should do with their constitutionally protected arms.