Saturday, August 9, 2008

Re: Consider Nigeria; which has gun control

A certain British Lady wrote,

Lawrence, I know you read a lot, but you seem never to have read . . .


Many experts say Nigeria's problems with small arms and light weapons date back to the country's 1967-1970 civil war, during which the southeast made a failed attempt to secede.

"Many of the small arms used in that war, especially on the rebel Biafran side, weren't mopped up at the end of hostilities," said Patrick Oraeke, a security consultant. He said the war created a generation of people who had trained in the use of weapons but were not under the discipline and control of any of the armed forces.

As a result, they easily resorted to banditry. "The surge in armed robberies and violent crimes in Nigeria that followed the civil war is yet to abate," he added.


Obviously political structure and political culture are important (as well as specific pieces of legislation, that is -- I agree with Paul on this); the UK was probably pretty gun-awash at the end of WWII, the Home Guard, an overt organisation, was armed, so was the (covert) Resistance-in-Waiting.

(For new work on the Home Guard see )

And some people, probably, many, retained their weapons afterwards. But that has not been a problem. So, there may be something peculiar about the US's political culture (when compared with other liberal democracies) that makes for the violence and the political attachment to guns and the propensity to use them. Here's what George Saunders (usually, in Guardian Weekend, relaxed and witty on the differences between our countries) has to say,,2065967,00.html

LH: I puzzled over this comment: "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 large could outfit a 20-man army doesn't sound terribly large by California standards, but it apparently seemed large to the Nigerian authorities. Perhaps Nigeria's more civilised?

LH: Nigeria is a nation that has attempted draconian gun-control like you want, Mike. It hasn't worked.

Lawrence comments further:

I did read it. It wasn't to the point of our discussion on gun-control. Nigeria had and has very stringent gun control laws. The article doesn't counter that. My argument was that gun control doesn't work. Make all the laws you want and guns aren't going to go away. Some of my notes discussed how easy it was to get or even make a gun. Mike thought his Draconian $50,000 fine for gun possession would do the trick. I used Nigeria as an example of a nation with very stringent gun control. It hasn't worked. Guns will always be available from some place. Make them illegal and you'll have an illegal gun trade. The fact that guns are floating around from all their civil wars and border incursions is interesting, but isn't to the point. Those guns are perhaps equivalent to the guns in America floating around because we've had guns forever. Guns aren't going away in either place, but a Nigerian citizen without ready access to the underworld may have difficulty getting one of these illegal weapons in Nigeria. So too the youth gangs that prey upon the undefended.

One of the Nigerian reps was a Hausa Muslim. The other was a Catholic from the south. I can't recall his clan, but it was in the minority. He was the one who wanted to buy a .380 semi-automatic from me. He described the sort of robberies that were occurring where he lived. My point of describing that was to illustrate that even if these gangs aren't well armed or well trained, they will use whatever weapons that come to hand and prey upon the weak and undefended. Not having guns won't inhibit them from preying upon the defenseless. That's what they were doing in my friend's neighborhood. The fact that Nigeria had lots of guns floating around is a given. Guns are floating around everywhere in the world. But even if someone doesn't have guns, as in Mike's fantasy future, teen-aged-gangs will take up spears, clubs, and knives and go about their nefarious business as usual. Witness the current British fear:

Yes, the apologists for Big-Government control and the need to keep defensive weapons away from ordinary citizens try to quell these fears with articles like this one from the Guardian:

But I don’t think it’s working.

Lawrence Helm

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