When Governments Fail



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By Nicki Kenyon, May 12th 2014
JPFO writer contributor, © 2014.

John Locke wrote that people, by their very nature, are free and equal – that they voluntarily transfer some of their rights via a social contract to a government – mostly to protect them from violence, so that they may enjoy their freedoms and their lives. Locke postulated that governments exist by the consent of the people in order to protect the rights of the people, and therefore, governments that fail to do so can be resisted and replaced with new governments.

This natural logic is what prompted the people in the Mexican state of Michoacan to stand up and take up arms against a drug cartel Los Caballeros Templarios – the Knights Templar – in a nation that does not respect the people's right to keep and bear arms...

...with a government that forces people to depend on its armed "authorities" to protect their property, loved ones and lives.

In Mexico, it is illegal for citizens to bear most firearms, but the Knights Templar wreaked such havoc in Michoacan, that self-defense groups arose and adamantly declared their right to protect themselves and their communities against equally armed criminal groups.

They would show up at your house and say: 'I really like your woman, I'll bring her back soon'," Dr. Jose Manuel Mireles, a community physician turned leader of the citizen self-defense groups, has recalled frequently in interviews with various media outlets. Mireles has said that he attended to more than 40 pregnancies of girls who were raped by cartel members in 2012 alone, "only girls who were between 11 and 14, the oldest being 14."

These rapes were the last straw for many.

In February 2013, Mireles along with a group of ranchers, local businessmen, and farm-workers armed themselves with hunting and sport rifles, machetes, and farm tools, and took over two town halls controlled by the Knights Templar. This would spark a wave of other citizen uprisings against the cartels and local authorities in collusion with the crime syndicate.

In Mexico, the citizens had had enough. Doctors, farmers, ranchers and even priests took up arms against the Knights Templar. The government couldn't help them. Pervasive corruption ensured that not only were the authorities cooperating with the cartel, but that attempts to report these crimes often resulted in retaliation after the complicit authorities reported those who complained to the armed gangs.

The people took the law into their own hands. Some will say they became a vigilante force, but they merely did what their government would not or could not do – they took responsibility for their own safety, their lives, their property and their loved ones.

When government failed to protect them, what other choice did they have?

When government disarmed them and then failed to do its job, what were they supposed to do?

They took up arms – illegally – but they did it anyway. They did it, knowing full well that this was the only option they had. They defended themselves and their loved ones when government couldn't live up to its contract...

... and they won.

And I would say they won big. They won not just against the Knights Templar, but also against the leviathan that was their own government.

At a ceremony in the town of Tepalcatepec, where the movement began in February 2013, officials handed out new pistols, rifles and uniforms to 120 self-defense group members who were sworn into a new official rural police force.

"Now we are part of the government. Now we can defend ourselves with weapons in a legal way," said the movement's spokesman, Estanislao Beltran, during the ceremony on the grounds of a local rancher's association.

To be sure it's not an ideal solution. The ideal solution is not to make armed civilians part of the government to "legalize" their gun ownership. The ideal solution would be to acknowledge that the "authorities" cannot and will not be everywhere, and to recognize the people's right to keep and bear arms.

But to be sure, this is a victory. It is a triumph for the people of Michoacan, because they did what they had to do. They stood up, knowing they were in violation of a "law," and they did it, because their government failed them. And it was their right.

Last week, Detroit Police Chief James Craig was disparaged and rebuked by gun-grabbing cowards, who insisted he was promoting vigilantism, by acknowledging that Detroit homeowners had the right to defend themselves, because police could not be everywhere to protect everyone.

Chief Craig understands the fundamental nature of the social contract: when the government fails, the people have the right to take back the authority they ceded to it in the first place. Those rights belong to the people, and just as they have the right to authorize the government to act on their behalf, they have the right to take back that authorization if the government fails to live up to its duties.

The gun grabbers don't understand the social contract. They don't understand the value of life, as I wrote last week, and they do not respect fundamental rights. The success that was what they would describe as "vigilantism" in Michoacan was the people taking back their rights, taking back their ability to protect themselves and their loved ones, and taking back their lives.

And their lives are more important than any "laws."

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Nicki Kenyon has been an avid gun rights advocate since she returned to the United States from an overseas Army tour in Germany. She began writing about Second Amendment issues in 2001 when KeepAndBearArms.com published her first essay, "The Moment.". She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins University and a Master of Arts degree in National Security Studies from American Military University. Her area of expertise in those fields is European and Eurasian affairs. When not writing about gun rights or hanging out with her husband and son, she practices dry-firing her M1911 at the zombies of "The Walking Dead."

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