Burundi Grabbing Guns as a Prelude to Genocide

Things are about to go sideways in Burundi. And when things go sideways in a Central African republic, they REALLY go sideways. Burundi is a tiny country just east of Rwanda and things have gotten so bad there that the current leader of Rwanda has told Burundi’s President that he might want to chill with the mass killing a bit so, yeah, it’s a bad situation.

What kicked off this particular round of violence is that Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run for a third term as President, which is allegedly forbidden by the Burundi constitution. Nkurunziza disagrees, and I don’t know who is right. I’m not an expert on the Burundi constitution. Most of the people who are writing about this are in the media, so they’re not either, but they are pretending that they are and everyone seems to agree that it was illegal. Let’s assume for a moment that it was.

In any event, some of the people in Burundi feel very strongly that his decision was illegal, and furthermore that his re-election to a third term was the result of massive fraud. So as a result they have been agitating with demonstrations of, let’s just say, variable levels of peacefulness against Nkurunziza’s third term.

Well, Nkurunziza has finally had enough and has decided that he’s not going to take any more of this guff from his serfs citizens and so he’s basically going to wipe out (as in, kill) anyone who disagrees with his claim to power. His first move, though, before he kicks off this inevitable ramapge? Confiscate everyone’s guns.

NAIROBI, Kenya — Security forces went door-to-door in the Burundian capital of Bujumbura on Sunday to enforce a disarmament deadline that diplomats and analysts warned could tip the already fraught security situation over the edge into widespread violence.

Hundreds of soldiers and police deployed to opposition strongholds in Bujumbura, many of which had emptied out ahead of the Saturday night deadline set by embattled President Pierre Nkurunziza. Those caught with weapons after midnight risked being “dealt with as enemies of the nation,” the president said on Nov. 2. Thousands of people fled Bujumbura over the weekend in order to avoid being caught up in the security sweep.

Obviously, the United States is not Burundi, and obviously, people with guns in their houses would not be of tremendous use against the United States Marines. But the eternal truth shines through in this story that a well armed populace is the best deterrent to tyranny imposed at the will of a corrupt democracy. The less people have it within their power to resist the force of the state, the more the state can grind them down with impunity.

The impulse to grab guns from citizens will always be strongest with the State that perceives itself weakest and furthermore believes that its control over its citizens lives should be absolute. Burundi stands as an example of what happens as a first step.