Saturday, August 9, 2008

Consider Nigeria; which has gun control

Mike,  You enumerated the blessings of absolute gun control, while I continue to argue that it never work – at least never work and leave our society as it is.  You could get it to work, sort of, if you instituted a repressive tyrannical regime that would confiscate all weapons.  Your proposed solution, that is, your way to confiscate all weapons, was to impose a Draconian $50,000 fine for being caught with a gun.  I recall something from my past, the situation in Nigeria as described to me by the Nigerian Airways reps.  Did I mention I was the McDonnell Program Engineer for the delivery of the last DC-10 Nigerian Airways received?  Nigeria had very strict gun control, but that didn’t make ordinary citizens safe because gangs of largely un-gunned robbers would rob the houses of presumed unarmed victims.  One of the reps attempted to buy one of my guns saying that if any home-owner could produce a gun the bandits  would run away.  The bandits obviously liked their victims to be unarmed.


Nigeria is a volatile place and the various clans regularly fight each other.  Shortly after Nigeria took delivery of its DC-10 (I was invited to go along on the delivery flight, by the way, to wonderful Lagos, but declined) there was some political violence there and I received a call from one of the reps, the one who had been educated in Scotland.  Unfortunately I couldn’t understand his accent well enough to decipher the number he asked me to call.  I always wondered what that was about and what became of him.  But be that as it may, the subject was gun control and whether it would work, and Nigeria had and still has very strict gun control; so it seems useful to consider their example.   Yes, all the political factions, militias, etc. have guns, but the subject is --


The ordinary citizen and the ordinary robber-predators.    These guys(both the citizens and the robber-predators) are still subject to very strict gun control.  Bands of robbers still regularly rob the rich, and the rich still brave Nigeria’s draconian gun control laws to buy guns with which to fend off the robbers.  Are the robbers armed?  An article I read  referred to guns in the hands of the young robbers – the sort of robber my friends referred to, but they probably aren’t much  better armed than they were when one of the Nigerian reps tried to buy a gun from me.   

I puzzled over this comment I read from an article: “Last year the police carried out a dawn raid on Orilowo-Ejigbo, a Lagos suburb, and arrested three men after seizing a cache of arms that was sufficient to outfit a 20-man army.”  Was this cache from the homeowners who wished to defend themselves?  Perhaps.  A cache that could outfit a 20-man army doesn’t sound terribly large by San Jacinto standards, but it apparently seemed large to the Nigerian authorities. 


The other incident referred to in the same paragraph, about bandits overcoming the security force in Seba in order to rob a group of traders obviously isn’t referring to the sort of robbers my friend referred to.  The robbers he referred to would run away if a home owner produced a gun.  These bandits were well-armed and well-organized and willing to engage in a gun battle to achieve their end.  But does it seem prudent to disarm citizens who are subject to these sorts of predatory robbers.  You, Mike, apparently think it is – that it is worth it in some way.


But what does this say, Mike, about your gun-control proposal?  Will Draconian methods eliminate guns here in the U.S, make everyone safe, and even eliminate the need for Police to carry them?  Nigeria instituted Draconian gun control and it hasn’t worked for them.  The people most likely to obey these laws, the ordinary citizens, want guns to ward off the robbers.   Perhaps the fledgling teen-aged robbers aren’t going to be terribly well-armed, but they aren’t going to be interested in complying with Nigerian gun control laws either.  Of course, if they happen upon an unarmed home-owner, they won’t need guns.  Other weapons will suffice.  


The problem is people rather than guns.  Some of them will engage in their nefarious schemes regardless of the laws.  The ones most likely to comply with gun-control laws are the law-abiding citizens who are the least threat to others.  But if these ordinary citizens see that they can’t be kept safe, as the Nigerian citizens have seen, then they will ignore the laws and arm themselves.  The police will be able to arrest ordinary citizens.  They will be easy to catch, but I suspect the police will not be enthusiastic about arresting them.  Their families and friends are those very citizens who wish to defend themselves.  Note that the article says, “However, a greater percentage of those who carry firearms today never submit to any scrutiny.”  Police are going to look the other way when they encounter family & friends (or the family and friends of other cops); So laws exist, but as the article says, “Many Nigerians, particularly if they are wealthy, keep guns in their homes in case they are attacked by armed robbers in the middle of the night.”


Nigeria is a nation that has attempted draconian gun-control like you want, Mike.  It hasn’t worked.  And yet you persist in believing it would be a wonderful thing.  You should take a trip to Lagos.


Lawrence Helm




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