What people need to learn from Honduran prison riot

JANIFEST/iStock/Getty Images Plus

We don’t cover a lot of news out of Honduras because, well, we don’t. When there’s a story relevant to the Second Amendment in some way, shape, or form, we will, but otherwise it’s not something we figure you’ll want to read.

Advertisement

Today, there is. There’s a prison riot going on there that is pretty ugly.

And there are lessons people need to learn from it.

A fight between rival gangs at a women’s prison in Honduras on Tuesday quickly escalated into a riot that killed dozens of inmates.

The riot at the prison in Tamara, around 30 miles outside the capital city of Tegucigalpa, started after rival gangs Barrio 18 and MS-13 clashed inside the facility early Tuesday morning.

Sandra Rodríguez Vargas, the assistant commissioner for Honduras’ prison system, said attackers cleared out security guards at 8 a.m. Tuesday then opened gates to an adjoining cell block. The women started a fire and started massacring the other inmates with weapons.

Honduran President Xiomara Castro decried the “monstrous murder” of 46 inmates, which she blamed on street gangs. Authorities found dozens of bodies after the fighting subsided, with some of the victims believed to have no ties to either of the gangs that instigated the incident.

Now, women are generally not as violent as men.

Further, prisons are the most secure places you’re going to find. Sure, this is Honduras and not somewhere in the US, but they still have a lot more control over what comes into that environment than your average neighborhood could ever possibly have.

Advertisement

And yet, a single prison riot has resulted in the murder of 46 inmates.

It’s awful. I don’t know what any of the victims did to be in prison, but few deserve such a fate.

Here in the US, we have a lot of people who seem to think that we can have perfect safety, and that if we pass enough gun control, we will have it. I say that because some advocates like to claim that so-called gun violence is a violation of people’s rights and that curtailing the Second Amendment is necessary to preserve those people’s rights.

If that’s the case, any homicide is a human rights violation and failure to pass laws preventing such a thing is an infringement on those rights.

Yet this is a prison riot. It’s in an environment where there is far more control than you’ll ever get somewhere that’s pretending to be a free society. Even dictatorships look at the control of even a poor Honduran prison with envy.

If they can’t guarantee personal safety for people inside, why does anyone think that can be guaranteed anywhere else?

Further, one contributing factor here is that none of the victims had the means to defend themselves.

Now, I’m not saying we should let prison inmates have guns. I get that prohibition is there and no one is interested in changing it. What I’m saying, though, is that denying people the means to defend themselves doesn’t make them safer. It does the opposite.

Advertisement

The United States can’t become a prison. As such, this idea that we can prevent violent outcomes is a myth. This prison riot shows us rather plainly it is a myth.

So it’s time to stop pretending you can create some kind of safety net by denying people’s rights, all in this misguided and wrongheaded notion that by doing so, you’re the one really protecting people’s rights.

If you take on that role, you’ll fail. It’s inevitable.

Instead, empower people to protect themselves and work to guide people away from that kind of path.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member