Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, David Kopel points to the Mugabe regime's latest gun-confiscation move as another step in the developing democide, and suggests that rifles might be an appropriate form of foreign aid.
In the comments, Shannon Love points out that the ability to communicate, and to organize resistance, is also essential, and suggests a wireless, non-centralized text-messaging network.
Now, back in the early 1990s, I was (a) working on spread-spectrum radio projects at my day job, and (b) having some exposure to the fringes of the militia movement; this led me to come up with a notion for an encrypted, frequency-hopping, voice-over-packet walkie-talkie system, with packet forwarding and some degree of self-organizing networking, for militia tactical communications.
I never did anything with the idea, for various reasons. (One part of the idea was to have it operate in the UHF TV band, hopping from one locally-unused channel to another between packets; I figured this wouldn't go over real well with the FCC.)
With the improvements in technology in the last decade, such a thing would be a lot easier to design, and cheaper to build, now. If it operated in one of the ISM bands (915 MHz, 2450 MHz), it would (I believe) even be legal, as long as it followed the unlicensed-ISM rules.
So now here's this idea: Love's suggestion was for a text-messaging system. Much less demanding of both radio bandwidth and crypto processing power than digitized voice. If it used some form of pubic-key encryption, messages could be read only by designated recpients or recipient groups, and the sender could be verified. Needs the radio (cordless-phone chip?), a bit of processing power (ARM-on-a-chip, e.g. Atmel AT91SAM7S series, is comfortably overkill), a little LCD, a keypad, battery, plastic housing in the form of a popular cartoon character....
Yes, it's a new children's toy: the walkie-textie! Secure text-messaging pocket packet radios! Range, maybe a quarter mile in Silicon Valley, or a couple of miles in open country without all the radio clutter we have around here. For greater distances, leave a spare unit lying around as a relay, perhaps with a solar panel for long-term power. Since the relay needn't decrypt the message contents, there's no need to worry about the enemy (i.e., little Bobby from Chestnut Street, or your parents) finding the relay and being able to read your secret messages.
If it's intended for use by children, user-interface design isn't critical; children thrive on the challenges of sadistic UIs (a topic for another rant). Adult users are another problem... especially if they're not literate.
Now, if it's going to be sent overseas, to fall into the hands of resistance movements, a couple of problems arise. First, there's the illiterate-adults issue. Then, the export models may need to support different alphabets. Details....
Still, these things could probably be built for around $10 each, in quantity (so $30 or so retail). Development cost would be substantial, but toy sales ought to cover that.
So, who's gonna build it?