Sick and Tired Residents in Southern Mexico Defend ThemselvesAuthorities, while expressing sympathy, point out that the defenders are breaking the law and must stop it. Mexico, quite ironically given the cartels' easy access to guns, has much stricter gun laws than the U.S. It is well nigh impossible for the average citizen to legally obtain anything but small caliber non semiautomatic firearms. But the defenders are not stopping, quite the reverse, as other communities are adopting similar methods because, as is increasingly the case in many of our own (non 1%) neighborhoods here in the U.S., local police are incapable or unwilling either to serve or protect.
On the main road into the Mexican town of Ayutla, about 75 miles southeast of Acapulco, about a dozen men cradling shotguns and rusted machetes stand guard on a street corner. Their faces are covered in black ski masks.
The men are part of a network of self-defense brigades, formed in the southern state of Guerrero to combat the drug traffickers and organized crime gangs that terrorize residents. The brigades have set up roadblocks, arrested suspects and are set on running the criminals out of town.....
A man who identifies himself as a lower commander in Ayutla's self-defense brigade says residents had no choice but to take up arms....
The 66-year-old cattle farmer and great-grandfather says it started at the beginning of the year. His cattlemen association was told each member had to pay 500 pesos — about $40 — to a local gang, or else.
"Everyone did as they were told," he says. "Everyone paid it."
But he says people started talking about fighting back. That's when the kidnappings started. He says the gangs snatched several heads of communities in the middle of the night. The townspeople grabbed their rifles and freed the victims. Then they started stopping cars coming in and out of town, checking IDs against lists of names of so-called "bad guys."
I recently posted a diary Have Gun, Will Carry With Great Reluctance in which accounts where firearms were successfully used to prevent criminal attacks upon myself and other family members. Commenters shared others.
At the heart of my argument is the recognition that not all of us live in safe neighborhoods and as economic desperation persists, neighborhoods that were formerly safe are much less so now. I cited an ongoing gang war in Oakland, CA whose numerous, often youthful victims, continue to fall largely unnoticed by the national media and where the city’s rather notorious police department neither serves nor protects particularly in poorer neighborhoods.
Since then my daughter’s home, in one of the traditionally safer Oakland neighborhoods was burglarized while her family slept. Fortunately, the burglars only got into the garage, took tools and the like and left before the police, summoned by a neighbor during the event, could get to the house. In the very wealthy town of Piedmont, a bastion of the privileged surrounded by the city of Oakland, there were recently two home invasions by a gang of armed thieves.
Here in the U.S. the concentration of wealth and income in fewer hands, the cutting of social services such as schools and police, the attacks on an already inadequate social safety net are moving our country in the wrong direction so that we are becoming ever more to resemble the Mexicos of the world.
Controlling wealth distribution and even how that wealth is produced along with improved health, safety, educational and other social services as well as decriminalizing drugs would go further in reducing violent crime and certainly save more lives in the U.S. than would imposing too strict gun controls on the law abiding as has been done in Mexico.