Disarming Mahmoud

Warning: the following scenario is a parody!

Pretend that you live in a largely self-sufficient rural community, consisting of a diverse group of property owners, governed by a community association. You are community minded and so you serve on its Board of Directors. Let’s further assume that the nation in which your community is located has established some degree of gun control.

For the last 30 years things have been relatively peaceful in your community, though there have been disagreements and various disputes that have been settled through negotiations most of the time. However, on occasion actual physical violence has been visited upon some of the neighbours. One of the incidents occurred 30 years ago in fact, when the Hatfields apparently foreclosed on a unit formerly owned by the McCoys. The incident was controversial but it was a long time ago and now you all just try to get along.

Mahmoud Hatfield, who was involved in the scuffle all those years ago is now the head of his household and still holds considerable rancour toward many of his neighbours. One neighbour in particular, BB, lives just a few doors removed from the Hatfield residence. Mahmoud has verbally threatened to “wipe BB off the face of the Earth”. Most of the time the other neighbours just take the attitude that, “Oh well, that’s just crazy old eccentric Mahmoud.” In so doing, they also overlook the fact that Mahmoud was once indicted for hiring a contract assassin to kill members of the McCoy clan.

The conflict among some of the neighbours has recently intensified and several threatening events have included the brandishing of a firearm by Mahmoud. The gun was found to be an unloaded revolver, the sort that might be employed by nihilists in a potentially deadly game of Russian roulette, if they only had a live round.

Lately, it has been determined that Mahmoud has acquired the raw materials needed to reload ammunition and has been trying to learn how to do it without causing damage to himself and his household. Mahmoud is not very bright though, so he has been getting help with his hobby from another neighbour, Ivan, who is an experienced game hunter and responsible gun owner.

Mahmoud won’t make much progress as far as reloading ammunition unless he can get his hands on appropriate shell casings. Fortunately for him, one of his neighbours has provided a supply, a fact which was recently revealed at a general meeting of the community association. Mahmoud was at the meeting and admitted publicly that he had acquired a supply of brass shell casings, which were concealed in a tool-shed behind his vegetable garden. Mahmoud and his household are strict vegetarians and grow much of their own supply.

Worried that Mahmoud might actually figure out how to successfully reload ammunition without blowing himself up, the directors of the association formally ask him to stop the hobby of reloading. Mahmoud insists that he is only doing it for peaceful purposes. He says he wants to take up game hunting to help sustain his household. After some discussion with a committee of association members, Mahmoud tentatively agrees to open up his tool-shed for inspections by the committee. After further negotiations he indicates he will surrender at least 70 percent of his supply of shell casings to the neighbour who supplied them in the first place. Ivan will reload the ammunition for Mahmoud and give it back to him in a year. The committee will in the course of this one-year recess try to convince Mahmoud to abandon his reloading ambitions and promise not to shoot BB or anyone else.

The committee has a month later reported back to the directors that they have an “initial response” from Mahmoud regarding the plan to give up his shell casings. He now says he would rather not surrender that many of his casings, preferring instead to send out one at a time, retaining the right to buy a replacement from another supplier as needed.

Now you’re concerned that if you permit this to happen, Mahmoud may actually be able to create a loaded cartridge even as you’re trying to talk him out of it. BB has urged the directors that a tougher position ought to be taken against Mahmoud and that with your help he would like to blow up Mahmoud’s tool-shed and forcibly remove the gunpowder he has stored elsewhere on the property. You want to take the high road and view the “initial response” as an indication that Mahmoud is willing to continue peaceful negotiations. So you release a statement that is strongly worded, saying to Mahmoud that you urgently expect a “formal response” very soon. In keeping with your policy of aggressive talk, you declare that you really mean it this time.

If you think the essentials detailed here are too stupid to occur in reality, I draw your attention to one example of the reportage on the International Atomic Energy Agency statement released within the last few days. The scale of the banality is about the only difference.

©Copyright 2009 Edward Podritske

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