Contrasting Republics: Nigeria and the US
When I posted some good news about the Civilian Marksmanship Program finally releasing some 1911 pistols for sale through an upcoming lottery, a friend from Nigeria wrote how he had changed his mind about gun rights. He said that increasing insecurity would everyone having a gun for their own protection.
Nigerian legislation strictly prohibits civilian possession of firearms of any kind. Even being caught with a few bullets carries a mandatory prison sentence of ten years. Licenses to possess, sell, repair, or manufacture firearms or ammunition requires permission from the President of the republic or the Inspector General of the national police.
Nigeria is a unitary state masquerading as a republic. The central government holds tremendous sway over decision-making authority in the various regions. This is not the least of which due to the centralized manner revenue is collected and distributed. Nigeria was designed to be this way by the British in their role as the former colonial masters over this region.
Their divide and rule strategy artificially put disparate cultures into a political union that makes no sense. The Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, and Fulani people have no logical reason or cultural affinity for being in the same political bucket. Attempts by the Igbo to form a nation of their own resulted in genocidal suppression by the Nigerian government and international community.
It is no wonder then that the means by which people could physically reject this artificial construct would be denied to them.
The United States republic was designed along an entirely different philosophy: a union of free and independent states cooperating for mutual security and maximum individual liberty. What has been largely forgotten is the central reliance upon an armed citizenry to ensure tyranny does not take hold of the governmental system.
Most people nowadays focus upon the second have of the Second Amendment when defending gun rights. Certainly denying any infringement authority upon the people’s right to keep and bear arms is important to prevent tyranny from arising, however, it is the decentralized nature of militia based law enforcement and security that is aimed at maintenance of public order and good government.
Most so-called gun rights advocates also neglect this important feature of federalism and constitutional law. Rather than waiting for tyranny to become so unbearable that it sparks an armed revolution, restoring the militia-based law enforcement to ensure federalism and non-encroachment is a solution for adjusting out any unlawful legislation by having the people themselves conduct local law enforcement the final node in the circuit of self-governance.
The insecurity my Nigerian friend cited as the impetus for changing his mind about gun rights, is a mere indicator of what happens when the governmental structures designed to maintain good order and elective government are removed.
In places like Nigeria, the government was designed as a kleptocracy, that is a government that extracts resources from the people so as to benefit the elite. Nothing changed about this fundamental structure when the reins of government were handed over from the British to the local oligarchs. The veneer of democracy and popular voting might be sufficient to pacify an indoctrinated population, however, the actual function of such a government remains oriented on keeping wealth concentrated in the hands of the few. The Nigerian peoples’ woes are embedded in the structure of their political system.
The United States were designed as the first government to put Enlightenment philosophy into operation. The United States were supposed to be different from the tyranny from which they were escaping. Unfortunately, the trend toward ignoring this philosophy and toward centralized control began immediately after ratification of the Constitution.
The good news is that the legal structure remains largely in favor of decentralized subsidiary federalism and the Constitution still lists the “militia of the several states” as distinct political entities. These local institutions are both legal and legitimate expressions of local self-government. They can be used to restore the constitutional order.
The republican nature of the American federal union was conceived in liberty and oriented on denying any faction or special interest group unrestrained control of governmental power. It was the armed population, organized as local militia, that was deliberately tasked with executing the laws, repelling invasions, and suppressing insurrections. The armed populace is not supposed to be the last chance failsafe device to revolt against tyranny but the regulator valve for ensuring the stability of good government.
It should not take a revolution or rising insecurity for people to realize that an armed population is necessary to the security of a free state. Weapons in the hands of the people and trained organizations ready to carry out governmental functions are the foundation of law and order.
It is not about self-defense, but about self-government.
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