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January 8, 2007

"We Have No Freedom"

The Washington Post ran an interesting article on Friday about the absence of law and order in Mogadishu, Somalia's capital. "Men draped with AK-47s" now walk the avenues of the capital, doing the bidding of local militias and warlords. These militias are a constant threat to the local populace, freely stealing and plundering from their countrymen. They also tightly restrict movement, manning an extensive series of roadblocks in the city that few are brave enough to navigate. The fledgling secular government of Somalia has been unable to establish control and guarantee the safety of their citizens.

In the meantime, frightened Somalis have taken to arming themselves for protection. It has, however, bought them little sense of security. "We are hostages right now," said Somali Mohamed Dere. "We have no freedom."

As we thought about this situation, we realized that in many ways it is the logical extension of the NRA dream for America. A gun in every home, citizens freely carrying these weapons on the streets for self defense, and a central government that is unable to regulate these firearms in any way, shape or form.

The problem, however, is that because everyone is armed and there is no system of justice or law enforcement in place, there is freedom only for those with the biggest (or most) guns at any given moment. And that sounds a lot like anarchy (or mobocracy, perhaps) to us.

We feel this story brings to light "America's First Freedom," the real one without which no others can exist: Public Safety. For a society lacking a functional government that can guarantee the safety and security of its people can guarantee no other individual rights, and is destined only for chaos and violence.

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