We as a nation have decided that an individual's right to possess and own a gun is constitutionally protected.[i] Similarly, we have also declared that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness"[ii]. Thus, we have consciously ingrained in our priority system the pursuit of happiness or human life and gun ownership as fundamental rights. Underlying these stakes is the assumption that all humans are rational beings. Unfortunately, as the mass shootings since columbine[iii], Colorado and most recently in Newton[iv], Connecticut have shown, in all facets of human conduct, the exception is always the true test of the rule. We extend our deep condolences and sympathy to the affected families.
When we construct a value system based on rationality, we, by definition, recognize that there are irrational beings or people with "diseased minds" among us. Hence, we protect not only the rational, but also the irrational[v] human beings. Yet, when a tragedy such as the shootings at Newton occurs, we tend to ask "why"? Of course, we need to answer the "why" question in order to offer treatment to those in need. Nevertheless, we already know the answer to the "why" question. We do not expect a rational human being to carry out such an atrocity. Only a person with a diseased mind can be so cruel and merciless. Unfortunately and for whatever reasons, sometimes we do not identify or diagnose the degree of the disease in a person with a diseased mind until an overt manifestation occurs and by which time it is often too late to intervene.
Recognizing that even a fundamental right can be inadvertently or willfully abused, the long term question we should be asking is "What" made this horrific act possible? Framed in this fashion, we can immediately identify five stakeholders; society, the diseased minds, the gun manufacturers and distributors, the victims and the government as shown in the diagram depicted below.
Fig. 1 - Stakeholders in the Debate over Gun Violence
In each path to a shooting tragedy, a diseased mind acquires a gun or guns through the gun dealers' chain, then encounters and kills the victim(s). Society is shocked and in its search for answers, some call upon the government to band private sale of assault rifles. On the other hand, some proclaim almost dismissively, "People kill people and not guns". Then a third group ponders if there can ever be a solution given the many conflicting interests.
True people do kill people by the use of means other than guns. However, people also do kill people using guns and recently at an increasingly alarming scale. Ironically, the victims, the diseased minds and the gun makers and distributors are all members of the same society that has granted them fundamental rights to liberty, life and gun ownership. No wonder, governmental intervention is handicapped by these same fundamental rights and the activities of interest groups. Yet, the government, by implication society, must recognize that there need to be a complete overhaul of the gun manufacturers, market delivery and use process. Whatever are the underlying value conflicts or the ideological differences, society must overcome them and undertake a unified effort to put into place a system that would reduce the number of deaths caused by the use of guns.[vi] No cost benefit analysis would justify the loss of even a single life if it can be prevented. We will defer this task to the public policy analysts.
Such a comprehensive Guns Manufacturing and Use Safety System would be the product of economic, educational, social and legal balance. Thus, the components of the system would encompass; biometrics on all new guns, apply the technology to limit the number of rounds dischargeable before the finger interlock unit engages to 3-6, impose psychological testing and counseling for each gun user, require and implement a new to old gun exchange program, place a band on the use of all guns not in compliance after five years and impose a mandatory one year sentence per gun for anyone who manufactures, sells or places in the stream of commerce, or possesses, or owns a non-compliant gun after the expiration of the five years.
Here is a cursory look at the components of the Comprehensive Guns Manufacturing and Use Safety System(CGMUSS).
1. Mandate biometrics on all new guns
Today biotechnology is no longer science fiction[vii]. Biometrics, also known as biometric authentication, is the means by which a person can be identified through their characteristics or traits, such as finger prints, eye iris, etc. Gun manufacturers should agree to voluntarily or be required to equip new manufactured guns with this technology, one gun, one finger controlled by an interlock firing mechanism. The purpose is to ensure that the true owner is the one actually firing the weapon and to deter gun theft.
2. Limit the number of rounds dischargeable before the finger interlock engages to 3-6
The technology would also be programmable such that when a person purchases a gun, the default mode in the finger interlock unit would be zero or cannot discharge. The buyer would then take the gun to the permit office where trained officials would use his/her finger print to set the identity and number of rounds the owner can fire upon pulling the trigger before the interlock system engages. In order for the owner to fire the gun again, he/she would have to re-identify themselves (30-60 seconds interval). Such a function gives the owner time to reflect and confirm their intended action; gives a trained law enforcement personnel present at the scene enough time to react and prevent accidental discharges. Most importantly, this security feature offers any potential victim(s) the opportunity to escape.
3. Impose psychological testing for each gun buyer/user
As an integral part of the gun ownership licensing process, the new owner or applicant for a gun license must first undergo the usual background check and psychological testing before a license is issued. The object here is to minimize the risk that the gun falls into the hands of a person with a diseased mind.
4. Require and implement a gun exchange program.
The federal government in collaboration with states governments would establish exchange centers for the collection of the old, but functioning guns. This process applies only to guns that are operational and can be discharged. First, an owner will take the gun to a dealer or appraiser for valuation as to market worth. The dealer/appraiser would then issue a value certification in a form previously authorized by the states. The owner then presents this receipt at an exchange center for reimbursement or credit towards a new gun purchase in exchange for depositing the old functioning gun at the exchange center. Obviously, the objective here is to reduce the number of these old, but operational guns in circulation.
5. Place a band on all guns not so compliant after five years
The gun manufacturers, dealers and owners would be given five years during which to transition from the old functioning guns to the new ones. By the end of year five, every gun dealer, seller or owner would have the newer biometric guns. The expectation would be that all old and functioning guns would have exited society to be recycled.
6. Impose a mandatory one year sentence for any one manufacturing, selling or carrying a non-compliant gun after the expiration of the five years
In an effort to rid society of functioning old guns, there must be compliance legislation imposing a one year mandatory sentence prison term for any manufacturer, distributor, seller or owner of a non-compliant gun after the expiration of the five years. Such a law would serve as a deterrent and convey the societal message that the freedom to own guns has a countervailing responsibility to protect human life.
We do not speculate whether or not such a system would have prevented the Columbine and the like's tragedies. Only a proper post implementation evaluation of such or similar programs will provide the answer. One thing is certain; there would be a significant drop in the number of gun thefts and illegal guns in circulation in society.
[i]Amendment 2 - Right to Bear Arms
A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. Ratified on December 15, 1791 and it is well settled that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to possess a firearm, District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008).
[ii] Declaration of Independence of the United States and the U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted the Declaration of Independence, pursuit of happiness, http://www.crfcelebrateamerica.org/index.php/ideas/57-pursuit-of-happiness; to be protected by the Amendment XIV, Section 1, which states that "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws". Meyer v. State of Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 393 (1923)(Liberty includes things like freedom from bodily restraint, work, education, marry, establish a home, raise children, worship .)
[iii] On April 20, 1999, in the small, suburban town of Littleton, Colorado, two high-school senior shot and killed thirteen people and wounded twenty one others before the two died. http://history1900s.about.com/od/famouscrimesscandals/a/columbine.htm
[iv] On December 14, 2012, a gunman shot and killed his mother and 26 other people, including 20 children, before turning a gun on himself. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2012/12/14/school-shooting-connecticut/1769367/
[v] For example, the protection afforded criminals under the VI Amendment to wit:
"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense".
[vi] In 2007, the latest figure available from the Centers for Disease Control, 31,224 people died from gun injuries. However, the most alarming statistic is that there are more than 100 million handguns owners in the United
Cognizant of the crucial role of constructive dialogue in the resolution of any dispute, we applaud the efforts of those involved in the creation of organizations such as the Cameroon Council for Re-unification [hereinafter CAMCORE] and Southern Cameroon National Council [hereinafter SCNC]. These organizations owe their existence to the emerging consensus that the so called "Anglophone problem" must be addressed expeditiously through dialogue and all inclusive engagement. Although these efforts have taken different paths, they have one ultimate purpose - making Cameroon a veritable nation built on the rules of law and accountability. However, the divergence and at times conflicting messages of these organizations exhibit a common flaw- the inability to adequately define the root cause of the problem.
The SCNC took the first important initial step, which is recognition of the existence of the problem. It is axiomatic that in order to solve any problem, there must be recognition and admission of its existence before its root cause can be identified. In this regard, the SCNC has succeeded in launching the pad for real dialogue. Yet, notwithstanding its recognition and admission of the existence of the problem "annexation of West Cameroon by East Cameroon", the SCNC failed to effectively define the root cause of the problem.
Instead, the SCNC made an unsupportable assumption - "the gorge between the two territories is now too wide for credible dialogue". Consequently, the SCNC's prescription for the cure is secession? Arguably, this would only be as a last resort. A review of the position advanced by the SCNC since December 30, 1999, leads an impartial observer to conclude that there is a disconnect between their recognition and admission of the existence of a problem and the concrete identification of the root cause of the problem. Hence, their prescription of the solution is incorrect. Nevertheless, whether we agree with the conclusion reached by SCNC or not, their message appears to be genuine, even if often overshadowed by confusion.
CAMCORE is a new entrant into the debate over the so called "Anglophone problem". This group claims to be comprised of "UK based Diaspora Cameroonians open to working with a cross section of Cameroonians and friends of Cameroon, within and out of the country. We seek to call on all Cameroonians of good will to join us in realizing "the Cameroon Dream" of a "One and Indivisible Fatherland", based on transparency, enlightenment, respect for the rule of Law, respect for human life and dignity, and above all, create an environment where all can achieve their full potential" they stated.
Unlike the SCNC, CAMCORE fails to even acknowledge, recognize and admit the existence of the "Anglophone problem". Yet, this problem is arguably the raison d'étre of its existence. This critical omission, while predictable, is at the center of the credibility issues confronting CAMCORE. Indeed, the average Cameroonian is left to ponder the real purpose of palliative, but non sequitur statements of objectives that are not focused on the critical issue at hand - the "Anglophone problem". True, ground organization is necessary for purposes of dissemination of information. However, ground organization may or may not lead to constructive dialogue; especially if the entire premise of the intended dialogue is not based on sound principles geared toward eradicating the root cause of a systemic failure.
The title of the organization reads, "Cameroon Council for Re-unification". This title is not only puzzling, but raises legitimate questions about the true purpose of CAMCORE. We will accept the ordinary meaning of "Council" as used here. However, we already know that re-unification between the two Cameroons occurred on October 1, 1961. After 50+ years what re-unification is being strutted here? What is the event that has precipitated the creation of CAMCORE? To re-unify an already existing re-unification and when did that event occur, etc..? Similarly, the phrase, "to join us in realizing "the Cameroon Dream" of a "One and Indivisible Fatherland", while appearing lofty and commendable implies that the country is divided and re-unification is now only a dream. Again, the average citizen is left bewildered and to conjecture about the real purpose and intentions of CAMCORE. Why are we still dreaming of a "One and Indivisible Fatherland", after 50+ years of independence and re-unification? The answer is simple and the title of CAMCORE says it all. When we ask the wrong questions, we get the wrong answers.
While we agree with the general proposition that Cameroon is and should be "One and Indivisible Fatherland" for its citizenry and prosperity, we are, however, concerned that countervailing forces of the status quo may be at work here. We question the timing and rush to prematurely label any group of Cameroonians terrorists, terrorist sympathizers or affiliates without clear and convincing evidence. To advocate peaceful coexistence and concurrently level or acquiesce the leveling of serious unsupported accusations of the magnitude, the "South West Chiefs Conference and the North West Fons Union, the group uncovered SCNC's links with terrorist groups" clearly undermine the credibility of CAMCORE.
The publication of this statement in this manner, even if true, further raises some critical questions. Did this allegation come from one or both the South West Chiefs Conference and the North West Fons Union; when were these links uncovered by either or both groups; and did authorities in Cameroon independently confirmed the veracity of this allegation and approved its publication? In light of the seriousness of this statement, we hope this was not the unilateral and reckless act of someone trying to score political points. Whoever is the culprit, he/she/they do Cameroon a disservice.
A statement of this nature hurts rather than advances peaceful coexistence. For indeed, if there are Cameroonians who are associated with any known terrorists group as defined under international law, then they should be identified and exposed. However, we should all categorically reject any rush to disseminate unsubstantiated allegations, witch hunts, or unsavory attempts to label citizens terrorists because they express different political views. Such questionable actions are antithesis to the objective of a "One and Indivisible Fatherland".
Conceivably, some misguided citizens may be sympathetic to the Biafra syndrome or secession, but even if such sympathies exist, they do not equate to "links with terrorists groups." In fact, the danger of a lingering of the so called "Anglophone problem" is the likelihood that it could force some desperate Cameroonians into an unholy alliance with those in Nigeria who still harbor some nostalgia of a Biafra Statehood. Thus, we must caution against reckless political machinations likely to create unintended, but dire consequences. The more time we spend on addressing the symptoms rather than the root cause of the so called "Anglophone problem", the harder it would be to promote meaningful dialogue.
During an interview with a reporter, Mr. Emmanuel Fuh Neba, CAMECORE Chief Executive Officer, said, "Cameroon's once revered traditional authorities are helplessly watching their power progressively shrink and their institutions teetering on the brink of collapse. Their powers are eroding, palaces collapsing, and there are virtually little or no stipends for them. In fact, they have been shamefully relegated to the hallmarks of 'royal beggars".
Although Mr. Neba makes a correct statement of fact, he fails to elaborate on the principal cause of this malaise. Instead, he makes the leap to "CAMCORE is working on a proposal that will provide a platform where traditional authorities can be seen as embodiments of wisdom and character, preserve Cameroon's tradition and cultural heritage". Again, we applaud the sincere efforts of Mr. Neba. However, working on a proposal that may never materialize is not an offer and no one at CAMCORE really thinks a mere proposal will provide the Cameroon Nobility with a platform when their biggest one was deliberately snatched out from underneath them? The propensity to address the symptoms rather than the root cause of any problem never provides a solution and invariably leads to disillusionment. Our purpose is not to dissuade or discourage the actions of persons of good will; we are simply compelled by our obligation to alert and inform of likely pitfalls and challenges.
Although the CAMCORE and SCNC appear to have expounded different visions on resolving the so called, "Anglophone problem", their efforts have illuminated the problem. Unfortunately, the problem is apt to exacerbate unless and until squarely confronted. Current efforts are directed at the symptoms instead of its root cause; mostly because the protagonists ask the wrong questions and expect a magical emergence of the correct answers.
True, Cameroon comprises of different educational, judicial and linguistic systems, but these are the very unique characteristics that constitute the embodiment of Cameroon's uniqueness and vitality. Incidentally, there are those who are under the illusion that they can eliminate these inherent aspirational national characteristics by reducing them into one system. This is a false interpretation of the meaning of "One and Indivisible Fatherland". Such attempts are not only doomed to fail, but will continue to engender discord. No wonder then that 50+ years after re-unification, Cameroon finds herself at a cross road. Accordingly, "all Cameroonians of good will" should embrace the challenge to incorporate the dynamic characteristics of this vibrant land into a cohesive and truly democratic nation based on the rule of law. To accomplish this objective and, therefore, ensure that the country's territorial integrity remains sacrosanct and indivisible, we must resolve the root cause of the so called "Anglophone problem".
 Some authors have referred to the "Anglophone problem" as the "Marginalization of West Cameroonians" by the government of the Republic of Cameroon.
 CAMCORE is a new entrant, launched in the British House of Commons on November 7, 2011 as part of the "Big Society Initiative for Africa"
 "50th Anniversary Celebration of Reunification: The Diasporas to Consolidate Peace and Unity" The Eye Newspaper
 To accomplish this goal, the Right Questions must be posed in order to uncover the right answers. If we keep asking the wrong questions we will keep getting the wrong answers. Sure, some are probably wondering what those correct questions and answers are or where they are? Well, soon we will pose the five burning questions that many in their own way have attempted to answer. In the process, we will explore the root cause of the problem and formulate definitive answers to these questions in the hope to provide a road map conducive to a resolution of the crisis which is actually broader than just the so called "Anglophone problem". We submit that any Cameroonian who does not recognize that there exist the so called "Anglophone problem", is either in denial or disingenuous.