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The Mind of James Donahue

Big Business in Dark Places














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Government Laws Against Guns And Drugs Don't Work


If we learned anything during the prohibition years, it should have been that we can't do away with something by making it illegal.

The moment alcohol was prohibited, the stuff began flowing freely everywhere. Speakeasies, the name of secret places where a person could go to drink, did a flourishing business. Rum runners and moonshine whisky operations became legends of that period in American history.

It was a time when the mobs rose to great power. Organized crime bosses set up headquarters in major American cities like Chicago and New York. The gangs provided illegal but desirable things to the public. They used muscle and money to force their wishes on the community and pay off the police. This was the way they supplied the "booze" (alcohol), the "broads" (prostitutes), and the "numbers" (gambling). The difference was that it was a black market business, the price was extremely high and the quality of the product was often poor. There was so much money to be made, the gangs frequently went to war against each other because of disagreements over territorial domain.

After prohibition was abolished, and alcohol became a legal product again, organized crime soon had lots of new products to work with. Our legislators, in their inept form of wisdom, turned right around and launched a war on drugs.

It started with laws prohibiting the import and use of such addictive narcotics as opium, heroin, and cocaine. Later the war expanded to include marijuana, amphetamines, LSD and various mushrooms. I keep hearing rumors that the Food and Drug Administration would also like to include vitamins and health food supplements in the controlled substances list. I hate to think of buying my vitamins from organized criminals.

Notice that since President Richard Nixon (a known amphetamine user) declared an "official" War on Drugs in America, the flow of all of these prohibited products has increased dramatically. You pay a lot to get a poor grade of product, but it is readily available in every city, town and crossroads in America. Drug imports are now such a lucrative business that wars are being fought by the gangs in the jungles of South America, Latin America, and even on the high seas. The wars are getting so vicious that innocent citizens, like the Chili missionaries, are now getting caught in the cross fire

All the drug war accomplished so far is make a lot of drug traffickers very wealthy, and fill our prisons with people who got hooked on the products.

Now, because of the mass shootings by demented killers in schools, job sites and public places, the rush is on to make handguns and assault rifles illegal. Can we really expect such a law to stop the sale of guns? I am sure mob bosses are salivating with glee over the prospect of such a new and profitable market.

The solution to the problem of drugs and guns is the same one we used to solve the alcohol problem in the 1930s. We submit to them, recognize the public demand, and allow these things to be sold and distributed legally, but under tight government control and restriction. This way the buyers can be screened, the product can be taxed, the criminal loses his power, and everybody wins.

Beyond that, I have a hard time understanding what all the fuss is about. If we just quit trying to regulate people's lives, I believe these problems could be quickly resolved on their own.

I have personally seen evidence that a freedom to buy and carry handguns seems to cause a deterrent to violent crime. A few years ago when I moved from Michigan, where handguns are strictly controlled and almost no one can get a permit to carry them, to Arizona, I was shocked to see people walking around with guns strapped to their hips.

Arizona was, and may still be, a free state where anyone could carry a loaded handgun as long as it was in a holster, and in clear view. It could not be concealed.  After my wife and I were nearly accosted by a gang of bandits on the Navajo reservation late one evening, I began "carrying" along with everybody else.

What I noticed was that even though we all had guns, very few of them were ever fired except on designated firing ranges or at tin cans in the open desert. That was a favorite sport, by the way. People also enjoyed showing off their weapons. I recall standing in line in a Sedona drug store one day while the man in front of me proudly showed the clerk his newly purchased handgun. She was interested because she said she had one just like it.


Some stores in Arizona had signs on their front doors that guns were not allowed inside. Just like in the movies, we had to check them at the door.

Because most folks in Arizona were armed, nobody dared to pull a gun on anybody else. They were liable to get their head blown off. Guns were to be found in nearly every home, yet few people were "accidentally" shot. I am convinced that gun safety is somehow linked to familiarity. When people grow up around guns, they also know how to use them.

One other thought on that subject. I don't have the numbers at my fingertips, but I recall a story that crossed my desk while working at a newspaper in Show Low, Arizona. It said the rate of shootings per capita in Detroit, where guns were strictly controlled, was much higher than in Phoenix, where they weren't. There is no doubt in my mind that the shootings are higher in Detroit because the crooks with the guns are pretty confident that the other guy can't shoot back.

Our experience with a Navajo medicine man and his wife also taught us something about drugs. This man was licensed to buy, possess and use peyote, a restricted drug that comes from the flower of a type of cactus that grows in the southwest.

Because peyote is part of the religious practice of some Navajo, it was legally allowed in the home where we lived. After the medicine man would make one of his trips to Texas to buy his supply of peyote, it was common for us to sit around the house in the evening, carefully cutting the plant flowers and hanging the pieces on clothesline rope to dry. Once dry, the stuff was ground into a powder. It was usually consumed in water or sometimes just eaten.

I do not know to this day why peyote is a restricted substance. While I chose not to go into the tent meetings and consume peyote, I did not see anything that made it appear to be a danger to health or safety. The people would gather, take their peyote, and sing all night. They said the drug put them in a mind-altered state, and that there were no secrets. Everybody knew each other's thoughts. It was part of a healing of both body and spirit, we were told.

What turned me off to peyote was the fact that it made everyone sick to the stomach. They all sat on the ground with buckets between their legs so they had something close to catch their vomit. I did not find that, or the fact that someone could probe my mind, very appealing. But I found no fault in it either.

It also strikes me as inconsistent that Nixon, who instituted our country's failed War on Drugs program, was a known amphetamine junky. Also, Gennifer Flowers, who claims to have had an affair with President Clinton while he was Governor of Arkansas, recently disclosed during a New York talk radio show that Clinton used and offered her cocaine when she was with him. If true, this is the epitome of hypocrisy. It angers me that our nation's leaders are publicly promoting this insane drug war, when they, themselves, appear to be among the biggest offenders.
















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