Myanmar – A Gun Control Lesson

By Faye Higbee

Myanmar, once known as Burma, experienced a military coup against the civilian government beginning the morning of February 1, 2021. The military declared the results of the November 2020 election in Myanmar “invalid,” because the NLD (National League for Democracy) won 396 out of 476 seats in the election. The military refused to give power to them, and in particular, Aung San Suu Kyi, the daughter of the modern founder of Myanmar and a pro-democracy advocate. They arrested her, the President of the country, and several members of Parliament. The military stepped up their lethal use of force, and began slaughtering the citizens of Myanmar – and because of extremely restrictive gun control, ordinary citizens have no right of self defense, nor can they even legally own a firearm. (Bearing Arms)

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There are a few armed factions of ethnic groups in the northern part of the country who have been fighting for their independence. But the average citizen of Myanmar cannot own a firearm – due to the volatile nature of the country, guns were confiscated. Now you see what happens when the right of self defense is removed.

The spike in fighting in Kachin has happened as the military has stepped up its use of lethal force, violence and threats against civilians calling for the restoration of democracy in cities and towns across the country.

Army chief Min Aung Hlaing, who led the coup, said on Tuesday that the protests had “turned into riots and violence,” according to a state media report.

He also said the police force “was assigned duties to subdue the protests according to democratic norms by exercising utmost restraint,” and the Tatmadaw was “helping the police troops as rearguards in required places to solve the difficulties and obstacles”.

The shooting, he said, “had to disperse the protesters, resulting in some security forces and protesters’ casualties.”

In Kachin, on March 8, police and soldiers opened fire into crowds of protesters in front of a Catholic cathedral in Myitkyina, killing two, minutes after a nun pleaded with the officers and troops to show mercy.

Bearing Arms, Cam Edwards

Though pro-democracy NLD has requested a “change in the law” to allow self-defense, it will not happen as long as the military is in power. Even prior to the coup, the authorities in Myanmar who governed the doling out of permission to citizens to own firearms only gave such permission to a select few based on whether they thought the person is a “good person.” Confiscated firearms are given to former military members and friends rather than back to the original owners.

An armed group called the Kachin Independence Organization/Army from the north of the country and the Karen National Union, vowed to help protect the people of Myanmar from the rampaging military in their regions. It may not help the situation, since at least one of the leaders said he didn’t want to use weapons, but would ‘negotiate’ with the military.

Self defense is a God-given right. We have held that right closely in the United States up until now. With the Democrats running roughshod over the Constitution and our rights,will there come a day when negotiation here will no longer work?

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Featured photo: By Chainwit. – Left- Burmese State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, Right- General Min Aung Hlaing (Wikimedia commons.)

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