Guerrero is a Mexican state whose most familiar spot to Americans is Acapulco. Like the rest of Mexico, it has been embroiled in a very violent and long-lasting drug war. Citizens there have been caught between drug gangs who terrorize the population with medieval barbarity and a police force that is incompetent, intimidated, corrupt or all three.
Mexican President Luis Echeverria Alvarez set out to disarm the Mexican people in 1972. He combined corruption and a dictatorial manner, and politicians like that don’t like the populace armed. See the Daley family in Chicago for a local example. The result, of course, has been that the drug cartels have all the guns they need and most of the rest of the country is reduced to unarmed victim status.
No gun control scheme has ever been fully effective, however, and people, especially in rural areas, hid their guns away for a time of need, which certainly has arrived in Mexico.
In Guererro, according to a recent Wall Street Journal reportÂ locals have formed militias to reestablish law and order in their villages. Villagers armed with no more than old shotguns and .22 rifles from the 1950s have set up checkpoints and are refusing criminals entry to their towns. As one militia leader put it, “there are two police departments now. The ones in uniform and another masked one, which is much more brave.”
One can only marvel at the courage of people who are willing to take on extortionists and kidnappers while armed with no more than some old Hi-Standard .22s. As has been proven from Valley Forge to Vietnam, the power of a gun comes from the guts of the man holding it, and Guerrero villagers, terrorized for years by unchecked criminals and a corrupt legal system, have decided it’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees.
The Journal reporter was a bit queasy about the whole thing, especially the makeshift jail where those arrested by the militia awaited drumhead justice. Are people who’ve suffered murder, rape, kidnapping and extortion likely to worry about Miranda rules and Perry Mason legal procedure? Probably not. Will innocents be imprisoned and killed? Probably so.
But as one local militia leader put it: “We brought order back to a place where there had been chaos. We were able to do in 15 days what the government was not able to do in years.”
Anti-gunners like to taunt us with the bugbear of armed citizens taking on M1 tanks or F15s with rifles. What’s going on in Guerrero is a much more likely use of a militia. Think those brave farmers and shopkeepers couldn’t make good use of a few ARs right now?