When the State Won’t Protect You

Whenever I get into a debate about the right to carry firearms the conversation often turns to the person debating me claiming that I should rely on the police for protection. The Supreme Court has ruled on several occasions that the police aren’t required to protect you. The right to self-defense should be universal as should be the right to own the best tool for that job. Thankfully I live in a state where I have access to the ability to carry my firearm but others are not so lucky.

But what can you do if your entire community is vulnerable and the state is unwilling to protect you? In that case you have to band together with the other members of your community and work together in common defense. The Firearm Blog has a link to an article that discusses the method which the people of Obo, a small African village, use to defend themselves against roving marauders:

An old woman had died. Before burying the her, the residents of the village of Obo — in southern Central African Republic, just north of the Congolese border — gathered around a campfire to eat, drink, cry and sing in celebration of the woman’s long life. It was a night in March 2008, just another beat in the slow rhythm of existence in this farming community of 13,000 people.

Then the dreadlocked fighters from the Lord’s Resistance Army rebel group — tongo-tongo, the villagers call them — rose from their hiding places in the shadows and advanced toward the fire. Others blocked the paths leading from town. The rebels killed anyone who resisted, kidnapped 100 others and robbed everyone in sight.

The LRA forced the captured men and women to carry stolen goods into the jungle before releasing them. Boys and girls, they kept. The boys would be brainwashed, trained as fighters and forced to kill. The girls would be given to LRA officers as trophies, raped and made to bear children who would represent the next generation of LRA foot soldiers.

Much of Africa consists of poor farming villages such as this one. In addition to that many of this villages fall under various ineffective governments (lucky buggers there) that will refuse to offer aid to those who take defense into their own hands but also are unwilling or unable to provide defense for those who comply with the state’s demands of being disarmed and easy prey. Well the people of Obo had enough shit from the LRA and decided that shit was going to end:

Instead, Obo’s surviving villagers raised their own volunteer scout force (depicted above), armed it with homemade shotguns, and began disseminating intelligence on the LRA’s movements using the village’s sole, short-range FM radio transmitter.

The results of this do-it-yourself approach were encouraging. Since the attack three years ago, Obo has not suffered another major LRA invasion.

I think this proves the point that you can do a great deal of things with very little money or equipment. The citizens of Obo may not be able to afford shotguns but they certainly are willing to make them. They’ve been able to stave off any other major invasions from a likely superior fighting force. I did chuckle a bit when I read the following though:

But there’s a downside to DIY security. In arming itself and taking on intelligence tasks, Obo is essentially giving up on ever receiving help from Central African Republic’s impoverished government. That can only further undermine the government’s tenuous legitimacy — and could fuel wider instability in the future.

That doesn’t sound like much of a downside to me. Obo’s government did do jack shit to protect the villagers from the LRA so I have no idea why it would be a disadvantage to not receive any help from that state in the future. Of course this could lead to the Central African Republic’s eventual invasion and disarming of Obo but let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

You know what another benefit of having a means of self-defense is? Being able to defend yourself against outside threats usually does amazing things are removing your fears:

The morning after the LRA’s March 2008 attack, the sun rose on a transformed community. Before, the tongo-tongo had been able to terrorize an entire village, kill scores of people and take more than 100 prisoners using just their machetes. During the 2008 raid, the LRA reportedly didn’t fire a single bullet.

After the attack, the surviving villagers were determined to never again be defenseless. “We are not afraid,” an Obo resident named Joseph told Invisible Children’s Adam Finck. “We are not afraid because we are the victims. They attacked us. They took our children. They killed others of us. That motivates us not to be afraid of them.”

This goes for both villages and individuals. Given a means of self-defense most people become less fearful for they have a means of controlling a situation involving an attacker. People generally fear that which they can’t control and if somebody is mugging your while you’re defenseless you have no control over the situation. On the other hand if you have an effective means of self-defense you gain some semblance of control over bad situations and thus are less fearful. It’s a great bonus to being able to save your own life as well.

I’m also impressed with Obo’s determination of keeping their fellow villagers safe. Some people often cry because they can’t afford a proper means of self-defense. Guess what? The people of Obo are very poor as well but that didn’t stop them either:

But the men of Obo knew they needed more than courage and manpower. Too poor for military-grade weapons or even the kind of firearms American hunters take for granted, Obo set about building an arsenal of homemade, single-barrel shotguns loaded with hand-packed shells.

Anything can be a weapon in the right hands which is why making possession of weapons illegal is pointless. But even if you can’t afford a proper tool for self-defense the chances are you can build something that will work in a pinch. If you can’t afford to buy a proper self-defense tool do as the people of Obo and build something that will work.

The Obo scouts represent a phenomenon found in many conflict zones. When government or occupying armies fail to provide security, vulnerable communities often organize their own forces. It has happened in northern Iraq’s besieged Christian communities, across Afghanistan and, most famously, in Sunni-dominated north-central Iraq, where volunteer “Sons of Iraq” groups helped turn the tide against Iraqi insurgents.

I like how they call this a phenomenon. I’d call it common sense as nobody likes to be victimized and those who live in conflict zones haven’t spent their entire lives being told that self-defense is impossible and you should rely on the government to protect your life. Of course the article also spews the following statist bullshit:

The downside of these DIY militias is the risk they pose to the long-term stability of their countries. Baghdad and the U.S. military struggled to stand down and reintegrate Sons of Iraq groups after security improved and they became unnecessary. NATO has canceled several Sons of Iraq-style initiatives in Afghanistan after sedition-minded warlords co-opted some of the militia groups.

The Obo scouts could entail a similar long-term liability to Central African Republic’s weak government. “The very act of civilians taking up arms outside of their government’s direct control is a potentially problematic issue without an easy answer,” Finck admitted.

Fuck you you statist pieces of shit. This is a great example of governments wanting control. If you are able to defend yourself that means the government has that much less control as you no longer rely entirely on them for your self-defense. Being capable of independence is what tyrannical statists fear most because it takes away their control over the lives of those living under them. On top of this the Central African Republic didn’t do shit to defend these villages so I don’t see where they have the right to talk about how it’s improper for civilians to defend themselves. It’s not like the government was rushing in to offer help.