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As U.S. drones scour Nigerian skies searching for hundreds of Christian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists and perennial war hawk John McCain makes belligerent noises about risking American blood and treasure to rescue them, three major impediments to keeping innocents safe from evil in the first place have emerged, and all of them, unsurprisingly, originate with government.
First, if one ignores the admonitions of the Founders and subscribes to the foreign entanglements school of diplomacy, there's the matter of the Leahy amendment, ostensibly established to ensure foreign security force recipients "have not committed gross human rights abuses."
That's strike one against the Nigerian government.
The second swing and a miss was reported by Amnesty International, which charges that the government failed to act on advance warnings to stop the armed raid on the boarding school where the girls were taken from — a school, incidentally, run by the state.
The third strike is one that was predictable, and will be wholly unsurprising to JPFO members and supporters. President Goodluck Jonathan's government embraces "gun control," both as a signatory to the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, and also as a matter of national policy.
"In Nigeria, the right to private gun ownership is not guaranteed by law," the GunPolicy.org entry for Nigeria documents. For those not familiar with that resource, it's a project of the Sydney School of Public Health, and while of decidedly anti-gun bent, nonetheless provides instructive and useful compilations of gun laws from around the globe.
"[C]ivilians are not allowed to possess machine-guns, military rifles and handguns … private possession of semi-automatic assault weapons [and] private possession of handguns (pistols and revolvers) is prohibited," the site advises. Add to that licensing, background checks and registration for what they are allowed to own, a prohibition on concealed carry and stiff criminal penalties for gun law violations, and Nigeria is one of those places where the "law-abiding" are at extreme disadvantage.
Boko Haram, which doesn't let such details slow them down a beat, finds such conditions enabling.
Not all are satisfied with the status quo.
"[T]he youth vigilante volunteer group, popularly called the Civilian JTF, has called on the Federal Government to allow its members carry arms and ammunition in order to do its work well in Borno State," The Nigerian Voice is reporting.
"We used sticks and knives and worked closely with soldiers and fought the Boko Haram members out of Maiduguri," a spokesman for the group related. "They are now killing civilians in the villages."
Will the government pay attention to the pleas? More so than the media?
Gun writer and colleague Dave Workman "traded e-mail with Dr. Peregrino Brimah, who had just published an open letter to Gov. Kashim Shettima of the Borno state.
That open letter claims "what has happened in Borno would never happen in any other state in Nigeria without the governor giving his people guns and a course in training so they can defend themselves."
If that's the case, there is hope for some progress, as it sounds like Nigerians are slowly discovering for themselves what is "necessary for the security of a free State."
Whether the rulers will voluntarily, even if out of desperation, relinquish any part of their "monopoly of violence" remains to be seen, although concerns over applicability of the Leahy amendment make that suspect. Perhaps, if they've disqualified themselves from U.S. intervention, the Nigerian government will be left with no choice but to arm and train the people with weaponry suitable for militia service.
Perhaps we are seeing unintended consequences of citizen disarmament resulting in the exact opposite of what the goals were. Perhaps we'll see the maxim about the only thing that will stop bad men with guns played out on a larger stage, for the whole world to see.
Then again, perhaps we'll see a continuation of tragedy, evil and outrage, all made not just possible, but inevitable by government-mandated citizen disarmament edicts.
David Codrea is a field editor at GUNS Magazine, penning their monthly "Rights Watch" column. He provides regular reporting and commentary at Gun Rights Examiner and blogs at The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance.