By Ryan

I served in the US Army during the invasion of Iraq in 2003.  After the invasion, my Military Police unit spent over a year rebuilding, restructuring, and manning five Iraqi Police stations in the heart of Baghdad. We spent thousands of hours on combat patrols in the city, hunting for Insurgents and also dealing with all of the regular civilian on civilian crime that happens in a city of 6 million people. Baghdad was a city, not unlike one in America. They had prostitution, adult cinemas, liquor stores, gambling, the women dressed in western style clothing without fear of assault, and it was legal for citizens to own firearms both before the War and after. That all changed shortly after the invasion . . .

The US Government agency that was responsible for the rebuilding and management of Iraq after the invasion was called the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), headed by L. Paul Bremer. In early June 2003, someone at the CPA decided that Iraqis shouldn’t have the means to defend themselves, and thus started a total ban on civilian firearm ownership.

I was in charge of an Iraqi Police station during this time. We were dealing with mostly Iraqi on Iraqi civilian crime.  When the order came down from the CPA that no Iraqi could own firearms and that they had to turn them in, we saw a severe uptick in violent crime i.e. robbery, carjacking, rape, kidnapping,  home invasion, homicide, etc. Over the month of June and into August, it seemed as if there were a flooded river of violent crime victims, both living and dead, running through the Iraqi Police station.

This was not due to insurgent activity, this was civilian crime. The rape gangs were stealing young girls and boys off the street and at schools at an alarming rate and selling them to the Saudis. Gangs of men would go into stores, kill the merchants, and steal their goods and money. Carjacking increased 20-fold, much of the time killing those that were being carjacked and leaving their bodies on the streets. The wolves were loose in Baghdad, and they were killing everyone. They were emboldened because their prey could not defend themselves. The strong and the many were preying on the weak and the outnumbered.

I saw no other reason for this drastic increase in violent crime, other than the total firearm ban that the US Government instituted that June. The bloodbath continued throughout the summer and into early September. It was getting very bad and the Iraqis were in an uproar over not being able to defend themselves.

Someone in the Coalition Provisional Authority must have looked at the violent crime statistics, because as quickly as they instituted the firearm ban in June, they rescinded the order in September. Iraqis could now own one firearm, be it a pistol or automatic rifle, three magazines, and 150 rounds of ammunition. Anything more than that was considered a weapons cache and the owners would be subject to arrest.

After the ban on firearms was lifted, violent crime decreased dramatically. More and more homeowners were defending their houses against violent criminals. They would either bring in the people they captured attempting to burglarize their home, or they would call us to come pick up the criminals bodies. Would-be carjackers were being shot by people defending themselves. Rape gangs weren’t stealing young kids out of the schools because the schools were armed with AK-47s. The flooded river of violent crime victims slowed down to a small stream by October of 2003.

Gun control in Iraq was a failed policy, which resulted in much pain and sorrow for the thousands of violent crime victims throughout the Country.

I was on a combat patrol one night in September 2003 in the Al Karradah district in Baghdad. This was a day or two after the firearms ban had been lifted. The word hadn’t gotten out yet to all the Iraqis that they could own firearms again.

An Iraqi woman about 75 years old stumbled out into the street in front of our patrol, battered and bleeding. She had been the victim of a home invasion by three young men.  They broke into her home and beat her until she told them were she kept her valuables.  After they ransacked the house, they jumped over the back wall and fled into the night.

After we checked the area and took her report, she told us that she wished she could have had a firearm to protect herself from the burglars. I told her that the firearm ban was lifted a few days before and that it was now legal for her to own them again. I will never forget the next words she spoke to me.

“Tomorrow morning, I will go to the arms market and buy a Kalashnikov. If the robbers return, I will fill the graveyard with their bodies”</b>.  I told her, “Good,” and went back on patrol.

She understood.  She knew that she was a target because she was weak and outnumbered, but she wasn’t going to be a victim again.

Some reading this might say, “This doesn’t apply to the US because it happened in a War Zone.” I say BS to that. This happened in a major metropolitan city that suffered from the exact types of crime we see here in our cities.

There are bad people that wish to do harm to others in every culture and country in the world.  The strong and the many will always try to prey on the weak and defenseless.  Gun control doesn’t work; I’ve seen it play out in front of my eyes to horrific consequences in Baghdad. We need to remain vigilant and politically active so that it never plays out in front of our eyes here in the United States.

71 Responses to FNS-9 Contest Entry: Iraq – A Laboratory of Gun Control

    • If you do a web search for this period of gun control that we instituted on the Iraqis, you only find one small mention of it. It’s a damn shame more people don’t know about it.

      • Seriously! I think there’s huge potential here. What will it take to get some info and add some references? Calling all journalists, let’s get this published to a wider audience. No offense to TTAG 😉

        • There is huge potential. But trying to get documents about these policies from the non existant CPA is going to be next to impossible. Someone has to have them, but where would you look? If you had the Iraq Police station desk blotter reports and the Critical Incident Reports from the Army, that would be the place to start. Finding them and getting the Army to hand them over would be interesting. Do FOIA requests have to be honored by the Army?

        • [ring][calling the WH to get Iraq data]
          Biden-“Hello?”
          Jarrod- “Hello, Mr Biden?”
          Biden-“Yes”
          Jarrod-“Greetings MR Biden, yes, we were trying to get some data from the Iraq police to help us with a gun control project”

          Biden-“Happy to help, its by favorite subject.”

          Jarrod- “Yes, well we understand that the ban on guns increased crime and the relaxation of laws decreased it so we were looking for data on”

          [click]

          That data is lost. eaten. shredded.

        • Brilliant! That paperwork we need is in the same place where all those 10s of billions of dollars we misplaced ended up!

  1. It is this type of information that needs to be distributed. I feel both both ignorant, and now educated, by this article.

    • Seriously. Can’t believe I didn’t know about this before. Well, I can given the MSM’s bias, but I’d like to think I’m pretty good about finding my info independently.

  2. “After we checked the area and took her report, she told us that she wished she could have had a firearm to protect herself from the burglars. I told her that the firearm ban was lifted a few days before and that it was now legal for her to own them again. I will never forget the next words she spoke to me.

    “Tomorrow morning, I will go to the arms market and buy a Kalashnikov. If the robbers return, I will fill the graveyard with their bodies”. I told her, “Good,” and went back on patrol.

    She understood. She knew that she was a target because she was weak and outnumbered, but she wasn’t going to be a victim again.”

    Powerful. This might be the winning entry right here.

  3. And the winner goes to….

    Seriously a great, but horribly sad story.

    Very well written.

    Thanks for your service.

    • Just a guess, maybe he knew if he tried to take them away the armed population would fight against a tyrannical government taking away their rights. Oh, that would never happen.

  4. php error XD “Warning: explode() expects parameter 2 to be string, object given in /htdocs/wp-content/plugins/add-to-any/add-to-any.php on line 269 “

  5. Question is, who was responsible for the gun ban? Do they still have a job? Are they still in the military or the Defense Dept.?

    This is a very stark example and a point very easy for anyone but the most ardent gun grabber to grasp. Trouble is, the failure of gun-free zones, cities and states is not so easily discerned in the U.S. and there are many people fed misinformation and lied to that are all for disarming the populace that don’t appreciate the unintended consequences of said bans.

    • Jerry Bremer, control-freak extraordinaire. Even his ex-boss Henry Kissinger pointed that out, the minute he heard of the appointment. The gun ban, the total disbanding of the Iraqi army (not just the upper brass), and the banning of all members of the Bath party from the civil service (not just the big wigs), all three were his choices, and made, according to the accounts I’ve read, without Washington’s say-so. Rumsfeld essentially got a memo after the fact. All that money and blood only to put such people in charge afterward.

      Excellent post.

      • But he wore tan combat boots the whole time he was in charge over there as a sign of solidarity with the troops! That makes everything okay, right? Oh wait….

        • Control freak, but no actual planning or coordination. What a failure with monumental consequences.

      • To understand Bremer’s “type,” all we need ask is “where did he go to college?”

        Answering this question tells you more about the intellect, common sense, ethics, morals and work ethic of people in government and high-level corporate management today than any other question. You need not ask “Democrat or Republican,” “male or female,” “Protestant, Catholic or Jew.” No, you just check their CV. When you see Ivy League undergrad, followed by a Harvard “trade school” (law or business school), you know you’re dealing with a prima dona and a useless one at that.

        In this case, do you even need to ask? Of course you don’t. You know exactly what I’m about to say:

        New Canaan Country School, Kent, Phillips Academy (laaa de freakin’ da!) then Yale (supposedly a Skull and Bones man), then a MBA from Harvard.

        Bremer is the perfect picture of Ivy League credentialism, embodied in one useless human being.

        I’ll just bet he drinks tea with his pinky finger in the air.

  6. Great story, but if you showed it to the average gun-grabber, their only retort is going to completely miss the point, something along the lines of “so you want America to be like Iraq?!?!?”

  7. Great article! Thank you for your service. It goes to show what gun control, and then its absence, looks like in another country that has a history of gun ownership like the US.

  8. Excellent. A little chemistry experiment…hypothesis….control..etc.. I had never heard of this. Amazing. Thanks for this information on a real world scenario.

    The big pro 2A groups should back this with funding and get it published somewhere meaningful.

  9. Is it just me, or is that Iraqi in the picture the cleanest, best-turned-out member of the Iraqi service ever photographed? Even his AK looks good.

    It’s like they lowered him into place with a helicopter, then pulled off the shrinkwrap…

  10. Ryan,
    I was in 9Nissan from 2004-2005 and we let them keep one AK-47! Hope all Is well!

    C_S

    Polite, Professional, Prepared to kill!!

  11. You were there before me (my tour was ’04 (ISGPSD – Camp Slayer – Baghdad)) so I was there after the firearms ban was lifted. We were told every family was allowed 1 AK for personal protection. One day I was talking to a local national who was a sheepherder. He told us about how some guys came to try to steal his sheep, but he grabbed his AK and he and his son chased them off. That sounds trivial to us, but those sheep represented his entire net worth – it would have been catastrophic to him to lose them.

    • Camp Slayer, wasn’t that the Old Camp Falcon for the 101st on the Southwest side of Baghdad? I was there till May 2004, so I got to watch the whole thing circle the drain from the beginning. Charlie Foxtrot! Embrace that suck!

  12. I think this is the best entry so far, for what it is worth. It has all the elements of the gun control tragedy in one, tight, encapsulated bit of history: Ivy League know-it all implementing gun control, hard men in a bad place trying to hold back the tide of barbarism (but unable to be everywhere at once), and a civilian population who knew the score.

  13. Awesome story, this is the winner in my book.

    And this account rings true with stories from several friends who were in Iraq during the same time periods.

    Thanks again for sharing and for your service.

  14. Folks.. post this on your Facebook pages (if you have them). Email it to friends if you don’t.

    It reminds me of “Shooting an Elephant” by George Orwell.

  15. I’m not a sociologist but I think it might be a bad idea to draw broad policy conclusions from a country that just went through a devastating war and was experiencing complete political, economic, and social turmoil.

    Besides, it wasn’t a total ban:

    “Small arms — including small automatic rifles semi-automatic rifles, shotguns and pistols — are allowed in homes and businesses. Public use is prohibited.”

    http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20030525/NEWS/305259959&cid=sitesearch

    • With regards to what the policy was, on the ground, I believe i will trust the man running a police station in Baghdad before the AP writer. I served in the Army, and policy on paper is rarely identical to policy in practice.

  16. that’s one of the things you’ve gotta love about the military; they may fuck up from time to time, but when confronted with undeniable statistics they’ll introduce a real solution to the problem, unlike most civilian politicians who would’ve next introduced a knife ban, walking stick ban, shoestring ban, and a ban of everything and anything that could be used as a weapon, and when those too failed, they would’ve simply ignored the statistics. look at Shitgaygo, New Dork, and Kommiefornia.

  17. So in the first paragraph we learn: ” They had prostitution, adult cinemas, liquor stores, gambling, the women dressed in western style clothing without fear of assault, and it was legal for citizens to own firearms both before the War and after. ”

    There goes that theory that owning firearms alone can prevent tyranny!

  18. Give this man a FNS-9!

    BTW, its funny how stories like these never seem to appear in the MSM.

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