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By Steve Hyde

I am an American citizen. I own two guns. One is a 12 gauge shotgun and the other an antique WWII era Soviet rifle. Many times I wish I had more guns. I would love a deer hunting rifle, a .22 with a magazine that holds about 50 rounds so I could have fun ‘target’ practicing instead of ‘loading’ practice. Honestly, I would like a handgun, but only just in case I visit Fresno, CA or downtown Memphis again; because I didn’t feel safe in those two places. Being an American living in another country, however . . .

I don’t have the same freedoms which I had in America. So, all my guns are stored in various undisclosed locations in the US. All two of them. I honestly believe that many Americans have no idea the value of the freedoms which they are living under. They take it for granted that they will always be free, but soon, I think, you’ll be just like me.

On a cold December day my wife and I arrived in the US to the news that more than twenty children and teachers were shot at an elementary school. That’s sad. When I went to elementary school no one shot at my school, but my school was in the Philippines.  There we had patrolling armed guards 24 hours a day. We had drills in case of an attack and the entire school was surrounded by a huge chain link and barbwire fence.

Seven different times over my years at school there, classes were postponed due to military uprisings (coups d’etat).  Once I even watched F-4s and F-5s strafe and bomb while 105mm and 155mm Howitzers pounded the city while I was at the school. I don’t think kids should have to learn about those things. My school wasn’t a prison, but we were safe and free . . . just not allowed to leave campus.

Tragic violence is always sad. CNN and FOX News don’t cover news from Cambodia news, I’ll relay a little local news from the last week or so here:

1) Four American soldiers were severely wounded defusing a landmine. We already banned landmines . . . too bad more than 200 people get blown up every year.

2) Two men got in a fight with wood boards until one was hit in the head with an axe. Axes are still legal here.

3)  A drug addicted husband in northwest Cambodia beat his wife nearly to death with an electrical wire because she refused to give him more money to buy drugs. Electrical wire is also still legal.

4) A group of 10 students at school in northern Cambodia got in a fight and pulled out samurai swords and fought until police showed up. Samurai swords are illegal in Cambodia.

5) A man in Phnom Penh, after an angry fight, poured gasoline on another man’s house and lit it on fire. Cigarette lighters and gasoline are legal in Cambodia.

6) A man and wife in southern Cambodia, both 60 years old, were headed home when they were attacked by thieves with cleavers. They were nearly killed with gashes in their necks, limbs and bodies and were evacuated to Vietnam for treatment. Cleavers for cooking are, in fact, legal in Cambodia.

You know, we didn’t actually have any gun violence in the last week. Two months ago one of my staff was robbed and they hit his wife in the face with a rock repeatedly trying to kill her. She survived even though she’s severely traumatized. Did you know it is impossible to make a stone illegal? Unless that stone was carved in the shape of the ten commandments — then it would be illegal today in many public places in America. There were dozens of other acts of violence, but it would bore you to mention them all. I guess it’s good we didn’t have any gun violence last week. Hmmm.

Living in Cambodia, I feel quite safe here compared to some other countries I have been to. Guns are illegal here, so only authorities like police and military have them, along with the criminals. Sometimes we don’t know who is who.

I want to invite you into my world so you can see my house in this gun-free world. You might need a similar design soon enough in America, given current trends. We have no protection from criminals and they are certainly not afraid of me and my smile, so we have to make provisions to protect ourselves around our house. I don’t worry so much for my own safety but I worry for the safety of my kids and wife.

My gun-free house:

Welcome to my living room. When you look out of my living room window, this is the view you see. Steel bars on every window (we tried to make them look nice), and a 15 foot wall with razor wire on the top of it is outside so we don’t have much of a view. I was going to paint the wall with an Iowa farm scene so it would remind me of home.


Now, look at my bedroom view. This is the view from the master suite on a higher floor.  Again, bars on every window to keep people out.

Outside in our 20 foot x 30 foot ‘front yard’ made of concrete, I put a basketball hoop up for my son. We have lost a few balls on the razor wire fencing.

We have a beautiful home even though it’s made of solid concrete (so bullets cannot penetrate, and has a solid concrete slab for a roof to stop any potential mortars or other projectiles (and, of course, people from entering through the roof). Do you see my house behind the gate?  Why is my gate so tall? It’s not really for decoration, but because we need to make it less attractive to get over the top of! My neighbor’s gate is shorter, so thieves will probably rob him first!


Do you have a pet dog? I have two. They are not really pets though. I have had several dogs. We name them after weapons just to be funny like “Bomb”, “Missile”, “Landmine” and “Soldier.” My dogs are really big for only one reason; they scare the bejeebers out of Cambodians (who are similar in size). They’re my security guards. This is them playing with my oldest son in the ‘backyard’ (again a really big wall, steel and razor wire).


If all my fences, razor wire, the 15 foot gate, steel grates, concrete barricades and dogs fail to defend me, I have only one last line of defense.  (Shhhh. . . don’t tell, I think the blade is too long and may not be legal.)  I hope I never have to use it, because the thief will probably just shoot me first.


Well America, welcome to my world. In the past I have enjoyed visiting the US where my kids could run around freely. I’m amazed that houses in America don’t have bars on them and you can walk across the grass to the neighbor’s yard. You can walk down sidewalks and play in public parks. You can go shopping without being frisked. You know, it’s sad that as an American I have never been able to enjoy much of my inherent freedoms which I was born into because I have not lived in America.

In the Philippines every store has an armed guard with a shotgun, rifle or handgun protecting it. You get searched going into every mall, store and every theater by armed security. Before parking in a parking lot, they use lights and mirrors to scan under your car for bombs and check the inside of your car. All just to park. . . at a mall. In the airport you’ll be searched a minimum of three times.

In Cambodia I’m afraid of guys with guns because they always get what they want. Traffic cops carry handguns. They collect ‘donations’ every day.  We have an elite unit of soldiers who carry AK-47’s and work in the night. They scare me silly, especially on dark roads.  Every month the fire department (a unit of the police in Cambodia) comes and asks about our fire extinguishers. They always carry handguns with them and demand money. I have to pay. One time I stood up to their extortion and I thought, as did my wife, I was going to get shot.  Better just to pay every month.

There are as many as 30,000 current land disputes in Cambodia and it seems the guys who have the guns always win.  Rich people have armed body guards with them all the time. My neighbor sells cars and has to hire four armed soldiers every evening to escort him home. I have never seen him dare go outside his house or work.

My wife survived genocide in which they gave guns to 12-15 year old kids who took over Cambodia. They took away everyone else’s guns and then killed 3.1 million people including my wife’s mom, dad, five brothers and sisters, grandmother, grandfather, aunts, uncles and cousins.  Only one sister survived the kids with guns.  They were called the Khmer Rouge. My father was blown up with C4 put in a backpack surrounded by nails and steel. The military makes C4, but I can buy nails at any hardware store.

Cambodia we are going to have an election here in a few months. This is now a democratic country where we have free press and free elections. It won’t be a cliffhanger like Obama vs. Romney, though.  In fact, we already know who will win: the guys with all the guns.

I am an American.  I own guns.  But I don’t live in a country which allows civilians to have guns.  Only those in the government can have guns. I think people shooting school children, or anyone for that matter, is bad.  I think AR-15s are bad, as well as landmines, mortars, F-16s, 155 Howitzers, 50 caliber sniper rifles, Glock 50s, AK-47′s, 100 round drum magazines and Uzis.  But what is far worse to me than removing those weapons is when one person can have them and I can’t.  It’s just not very safe for me.

The American Bill of Rights is something which has allowed Americas to not only stand for liberty, but to live in freedom.  Of those freedoms, the most valuable to me are freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the freedom to bear arms. All three have been severely eroded in my lifetime and it is a shame I will probably never get to enjoy those freedoms like generations gone by.

Welcome to my world, America. A world without guns.

This article originally appeared on Steve Hyde’s blog, Jungle Adventures, and is reprinted here with permission. 

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  1. I think that was a wonderful post, Steve. Although I never knew downtown Fresno was THAT dangerous! Downtown Albuquerque – THAT’S dangerous. Crystal meth.

    • Blackstone is pretty bad, but manageable. I think there are some worse parts of town, but I avoid them. My parents and I are probably going to getting CCW licenses soon though, since people seem to have gotten worse over the past 3 years. The gangbanger types are the only people I’m legitimately worried about, and there’s plenty of them.

    • Given the choice with regard to personal safety between Albuquerque & London(UK), I’d take Albuquerque every time – meth or not.
      In six years of visiting Albuquerque (five weeks a year), I’ve heard gunfire twice.
      In six years of visiting my sister in London (two or three days a year) I’ve heard shots fired most nights.
      Of course handguns are banned & other firearms highly regulated in the UK, which for some strange reason doesn’t affect the criminals….

  2. Yep, just got back from 3 weeks in the Philippines and I was floored to see the number of armed guards everywhere…crazy. Every home (that is lucky enough to have windows), has bars on it. Armed guards letting you in and out of the neighborhood you live in, as you’re surrounded by squalor, poverty and crime. It’s legal to own weapons there but they are prohibitively expensive and there are restrictions around registration, when you can transport them, etc. It’s just a way of life to see armed guards there everywhere, and in most cases, the crime stays away as a result. On the flip side, it was sad to see 400 plus people hit by raining gunfire on NYE, because all of the fools that shoot their guns in the air…7 or 8 dead too…some just kids, hit while watching fireworks…so sad…and that was just in Manila. Filipino’s love their guns. My brother in law had to leave our lunch in Tondo to visit a crime scene 5 blocks away (he’s a crime suspect sketch artist)…a guy got murdered with a Armscor 1911. Took a .45 to the back and to the head. He apparently was in “collections” and threatened to kill a guy that owed money. The guy that owed put a contract out on him. One dead and now one soon to be in prison apparently. Crazy place. It’s a place that has come to realize that the only way to combat the crime and murder is to be proactive – armed guards everywhere. It’s kind of sad/unnerving to see armed guards everywhere, but the alternative would be worse.

  3. Damned if I’d live there. You must be well paid. You can bring your wife and kids to the states and not have to live in a prison.

    • Unless he moves to New York, then not much would seem different. Armed cops everywhere, body scans at the airport, no firearms unless your rich, stop and frisks, and of course, no HIGH CAPACITY soda.

  4. The last time I was in the PI was 1989, two dudes decided to settle their issues with knives, one got the better of the other, although both were alive when I left the scene.
    Every single business, club, bus stop and office had at least one armed security guard or more, sometimes a pistol, others a pistol and shotty.
    No one can ever convince me that left-wing progressives are harmless or wont confiscate, or that they will stop at revolvers and shotty’s…no way, they want everything…

  5. I sometimes have thought, in lieu of military service, everyone should have to live in a foreign country for at least six months, right out of high school. See just how much they really don’t matter. I have been to more than a few, for extended periods. I can live without some of the convenience’s here, but, in a foreign land, more often than not, you are the prey of choice for the criminal elements. They know you have to be totally defenseless because of the laws of the land, and they could care less about the law. And there is no way I would go into many big city areas of the US without serious firepower and back up.

    • A friend of mine attended college in the late 60s, and was heavily involved in the black radical movements. He described himself as a hater of everything American, and thought blacks should go back to Africa.

      His roommate in college was the son of the leader of a West African country, and invited him to come back to (I think) Liberia with him. He went and lived there for a year. It completely changed his opinion of America. When he returned, he literally kissed the ground when he got off the plane. He had seen what true poverty and racism was, and realized that he had things pretty good here.

      His roommate and his whole family were killed in a coup a few years later.

      • I’ve always said there is no education in this world like International Travel. No school, college, online course, experience can provide it because we’re still free, cannot fully understand & relate to this, these [yet]. Most of us unfortunately have to taste, feel, smell, etc. this 3rd world brand of Tyranny to fully acknowledge it, to contemplate it, to fight it. For example, none of us can imagine what 600 missiles raining down from hamas would be like daily: the daily grueling terror, the disruption, the chaos, the raw fear…”gotta see it to believe it.”

    • I’m quite prepared to set up a scheme where I arrange for two US students to stay in the UK for six months each, consecutively, every year.
      In exchange I get to spend 12 months a year in the US – yay! 🙂

    • I think taking 6 months to a year living outside of American (Gap Year they call it in Europe) is a great idea. Make you appreciate your freedoms so much more, then people would defend them more!

  6. mikeb’s utopia in action.

    This is what gun-grabbers and progressives want for us, people. If that isn’t a direct threat to our lives and freedom I don’t know what is.

    • You don’t understand – mikeb#s would just tell you that this account is “anecdotal”, and doesn’t really mean anything. He would reassure you that the peace-loving people of Cambodia LOVE living in a gun-free (except for the powerful/criminals) country.

  7. Give that man a job well done in showing the reality of the world in which left wing utopia leads to horrors in historic showings.

  8. I shared this story to the 500+ people I have in my contact list, thinking of paying the $7.00 to promote it, if you want to help subsidize the promotion of it, send me a buck on paypal [email protected]

  9. Pointing out the obvious here, but the reason these places are so crime ridden is that the criminals know nobody has guns. I’ve been working in Central and West Africa for the past 7 years and every country i worked in has a critical crime rate. Every one of those countries has almost universal gun control. If I am in a country that has bars on all the windows, 9 foot walls with razor wire, broken bottles or cut tin triangles, I know I am in a country with strict gun control. Every time.

    • I’m pretty sure the title “A World Without Guns” is supposed to be tongue in cheek, pointing out what making guns “illegal” actually results in. I’m fairly certain that if a magic button existed that could destroy totally and completley every firearm in the world and the ability to ever make one again, that even the most die hard enthusiasts would press it. Sadly, we live in reality and we must live with real consequences to idealogical based nonsense.

  10. This should be required reading for all the twinks who think that banning weapons leads to safety.

    It never does. Ever.

    Of course, I’m hardly the first man to notice this. Machiavelli wrote at length on this subject in his book “Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio” (Referred to in English as “Discourses on Livy”) and noted how the French kings and noblemen preferred the French population to be unarmed and supine, whereas the Roman Republic, classical Greece, etc had their citizens armed and trained for war.

    It makes for fascinating reading:

  11. This tale of terror could easily come from any inner city in the US, except that lots of people in the inner city have guns, too. Unlike the US military, the bad guys don’t much care about “collateral damage.”

    Those nice, thick, bullet-stopping walls can come in handy amidst the idyllic green lawns of the suburbs, too:

    Two men were arrested in Ohio on Wednesday after their target practice with an AK-47 assault rifle accidentally shot up a woman’s home and nearly hit a officer who was responding to reports of gunfire.
    Raw Story (

    On the other side of the equasion, consider the city of San Bernardino. They filed for bankruptcy lately, and “starving the beast” has had predictable results:

    After violent crime had dropped steadily for years, the homicide rate shot up more than 50 percent in 2012 as a shrinking police force struggled to keep order in a city long troubled by street gangs that have migrated from Los Angeles, 60 miles to the west.

    “Lock your doors and load your guns,” the city attorney, James F. Penman, said he routinely told worried residents asking how they can protect themselves.

    “All of our crime is up, and the city has a very high crime rate per capita anyway,” Handy said. “I can’t police the city with much less than this. We’re dangerously close as it is.”

    Read more here:

    Seems as though the problem is linked more to inadequate funding of the police force rather than individual gun ownership. Then, too, what happens when the heavily-armed street gangs realize that you’re armed, and a threat to their authority – like their rival gangs (who are also heavily-armed). Will they decide to take you out in a drive-by? If at first they don’t succeed, will they try, try again? Remember, this is the life of a street gang member – stalking and shooting rival gang members, while they themselves are stalked.

    • Yes in this country some inner cities are bad R.A. But it appears that the country in question here is bad every where. And as Brad said about his time in Africa, every country with strict gun laws was a sh!thole.

      As for the gangbangers. They’re going to treat you with kindness and respect because you’re unarmed? They only hassle the armed citizens? I’ll keep my guns.

  12. That poor guy, I don’t care how much a job pays or how big a house is, I could never live somewhere I couldn’t own a firearm. Once you experience the joy firing them gives you, you never go back. Its like having a Prius then getting and driving a classic Shelby, why the hell would you go back to the Prius?

  13. In 1983 my dad was offered a job in Mexico City. He was told we would live in a compound that would be safe because of the height of the walls and the glass embedded in the walls, and because of the armed security that would take us to and from school (I was in 9th grade, with younger sibs).

    Unsurprisingly, he turned that one down and we did a 3.5-year hitch in the Great White North instead. Nothing like living outside the US to convince you that we are seriously, SERIOUSLY disliked by the rest of the world. I had some good Canadian friends and won them over, but I don’t think I changed anyone’s minds about the US as a concept. Too big, too loud, too confident and too clueless — that’s the perception of the US from our closest ally and culturally our closest relatives that we by and large share a media and the longest unguarded border in the world with. If it’s that bad there, I’m pretty sure I don’t care to live anywhere much more foreign.

    The folks in Normandy near the beaches and in Ste Mere-Eglise were as nice as could be, they remember what we did for them nearly 70 years ago and at least they believe the Nazis were worse. Other than that it’s not overly friendly out there.

  14. I grew up in the Philippines during the 80’s and 90’s. My family moved here so we can have more freedom and opportunities. Lately I’ve been questioning if it would have been better if I stayed behind. At least back there you can expect anybody with a gun is going to take advantage of you. Here it’s the ones that don’t have guns I’m worried about.

  15. Very nice. Too bad the gun-haters care nothing about the reality of a “gun free” society. They have fear and ignorance to guide their decisions.

  16. I have been to his world – SE Asia and it is pretty bad in many ways . . . especially Cambodia. With all their big, hairy problems they managed to grab weapons but do not have almost anything positive that comes with having a (barely) functioning government. You know you are in a poor country when a large portion of your people go to another third world country for work (as in Thailand).

  17. This story reminds me of a quote that a liberal prof. of mine at Monterey Peninsula College said. He admitted he was a liberal, but said he didn’t believe in gun control because he’d been to countries where only the police had guns.
    Everyone should visit a foreign country at least once and not the tourist places. I got a chance to be in S. Korea when they had martial law in effect. Been deep in Mexico, where the farmers carried submachine guns when bringing crops to market.
    Heck, go spend some time in Puerto Rico where my parents came from.

    • It goes back to that problem of those who never had to fight for freedom, or who never knew what it was like without freedoms. Well, give it a matter of months or years and they’ll know first hand.

  18. My wife is from Ecuador and I have been there on many occasions. This article rings true there as well. I have never seen so many Rottweilers and german shepherds in my life. Even the golden retrievers are mean down there.

    Every house has a cement wall with broken glass on top. Every retail establishment has a sec guard with an old, beat-up .38 or 12 gauge. To be honest, I don’t think they are even loaded.

    Home invasions and car jackings are rampant… You cannot walk on the beach at night. I could go on….

  19. I got married in the Philippines in 1996, and have spent some time there over the years since. I experienced every single thing he described except being near an actual gun fight. I missed being at a bank robbery by 30 minutes (Happened after I left). Every bank I saw had guards outside with pump shotguns and pistols. You can’t walk into a bank with out being checked out by the guard first. But three guys decided to try to rob the bank anyway, they got shotgunned in the street for their efforts. And the video on the news shows you an upclose shot of the dead laying in the street with their heads half blown off, guts hanging out. No sanitized long shots of a tarp covered lump in the street, they get the full bloddy mess on camera. Hotels have armed guards, razor wire, barred windows, etc. I’ve been pulled off a bus with every other male by police and lined up against a wall and searched, interogated, and then allowed to reboard the bus. I’ve paid bribes to get to places, to get documents, to just be able to continue on my way. There are places in the Philippines that I truly love, little jewels of paradise, but they are NOT near Manila, and not on Mindanao (muslim strronghold).

  20. That was a really well done piece with the exception of, “Unless that stone was carved in the shape of the ten commandments — then it would be illegal today in many public places in America.”

    That has nothing to do with the piece and isn’t quite accurate. It should say, “…then it *should* be illegal today in *every* public space in America.”

  21. Mr. Zimmerman, Thank-you for sharing your story. I’m sorry your family was affected by the Khmer Rouge. That period is one of the darkest in recent history. I applaud your efforts to give Cambodia a good future- hopefully one in which traffic cops and firemen do not extract bribes from the populace. However, I don’t think brandishing/using a gun would help in those cases. When I read the list of incidents that had happened in the last week, it struck me that no one had been killed. And yet if those violent people had had a gun instead, most likely there would have been a death toll.

    • He wasn’t saying that he, as an individual, having a gun in such a society would be better (as illegal guns are plentiful and cheap in Cambodia, so if that was his belief he could have “rectified” the situation easily).

      His point was that a society where only authority figures and criminals have guns is what creates such situations. Places where civilians have firearm rights do not deteriorate to become what he describes.

  22. That was an amazingly powerful piece…right up to the point where he couldn’t resist dropping a reference to the ten commandments. What’s next? saying sandy hook happened because we “took God out of schools”?

  23. There are a number of things wrong with this, ‘article’ but I think they can all be summed up with one point. You’re comparing a third world country to a first world country, therefore the comparisons you present are drastically skewed.

    Also your disdain for the supposed, “war against christianity” is showing. Which is great, because that has so much to do with the issue at hand. Do I need to make my sarcasm clearer?

  24. Hi Dan, thank you for the article!

    Wow man, Cambodia. Interesting times over there, but I believe for the better, at long last too. I think of them as my “neighbors” and cannot help but wish a fellow Southeast Asian country good things.

    I live in the Philippines. I am Filipino, a gun owner, competitive shooter, family man.

    I grew up with security guards all over our school. And I’m happy and lucky I can afford to send my daughter to a school that is built like a fortress on the outside but is a really nice place inside.

    We grew up thinking of the guards as “kuyas” (coo-yahs) or big brothers. Some were nice, some were jerks, all far from perfect. But I cannot imagine life w/o this level of security.

    I’m a parent, so ya’ll know how I feel about any school shooting case.

  25. I don’t see how owning a gun would address the issues mentioned in this article. If you live in an area where you have to have barbed wire, guard dogs, and cement walls to feel safe, I doubt there is much that carrying a gun can do to alleviate those concerns. It sounds like the issues facing this community are much more severe than gun ownership … carrying a gun doesn’t solve corruption, poverty, and crime. Similar to how gun supporters say that guns don’t kill people, people kill people, I retort that guns don’t solve societal problems, people do.

    • Funny, dead attackers never commit another crime, that particular problem is indeed permanently resolved as the attacker never gets to make the choice to commit another crime, ever again!

        • No, George Zimmerman blurred the line himself by following and starting confrontation. That is not how self defense works, hence why he is on trial. If it turns out they can convince the jury he was part of the aggression/escalation then he’ll spend a VERY large portion of his life in jail.

        • The evidence presented to the jury was that Martin initiated the confrontation.
          With no other witnesses, it’s impossible to prove otherwise.

    • We don’t have homes surrounded by concrete block walls, topped with broken glass, and gated by solid steel panels in this country. And we don’t have a preponderance of home invasions – because the criminals know they run a very real risk of getting shot if they attack a home. Since concealed carry permits have become more commonly available in America, crime has dropped each year. The point of explaining Cambodia is to prevent us from becoming like Cambodia, by pointing out the advantage of citizen owned firearms.

      • You said, “we don’t have a preponderance of home invasions – because the criminals know they run a very real risk of getting shot if they attack a home”
        But everyone on an earlier post was saying that the journal that published the addresses of gun owners made those people more susceptible to crime.

        • The kind of information given out by the Journal is of great use to sneak thieves rather than the home invasion type of criminal who relies on force.
          Of course it helps the latter somewhat tooo, as it points to where armed opposition will be absent.

  26. FLAME DELETED funny thing is being Canadian which has a ban on ARs, high cap mags, and stringent background check ( all the us wants to do) i fell super safe in my home, hell i dont even have a key too my front door cause i never lock it

    • The funnier thing Ken is that being Canadian, you don’t know squat…and I bet your trailer door doesn’t lock anyhow. Go troll somewhere else, fool.

    • I don’t have a key to my front door either. Realize that rural America and American cities without prevalent gang culture actually have a LOWER homicide rate than Canada does. It’s the gang warfare of certain cities that raises the rates for the entire country. We have a gang problem disguised as a gun problem.

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