When one thinks about the right to keep and bear arms, America is the first place that comes to mind. That’s as it should be. The United States is one of only three remaining nations in the world with explicit constitutional protection for that right, and despite what restrictions we do have, we’re the only one of those three that doesn’t have a constitutional carve-out allowing gun control.
While it’s discouraging for American firearm owners and liberty lovers to watch the gradual progression away from that quintessential American freedom, the wider world proves the Second Amendment is still more than just pretty words on paper. People around the globe are being disarmed through gun control by fiat – including precisely the sort of measures our own president wants to enact but can’t thanks to whatever remnant of respect for the Constitution remains today.
It’s Gun Control by Fiat in Brazil
Brazil’s radical leftist president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, signed an executive order titled “Responsible Gun Control” Friday, July 21. The decree greatly rolled back the privilege of firearm and ammunition ownership. And that is a privilege, not a right, as the president has the authority in Brazil to set whatever gun laws he wants.
In August of 2018, The Independent reported that Brazil had broken its own record for the most murders in a single year. July 10, 2023, Associated Pressed reported that 2022 had the lowest number of homicides in over a decade. What changed? For one thing, Jair Bolsonaro served as president from 2019 to 2023.
Bolsonaro issued more than a dozen decrees during his time in office that loosened restrictions on gun ownership for civilians. Since 2018, the number of privately owned firearms doubled and homicides dropped to a low not seen since 2011.
But Brazil no longer has a pro-gun president – nor does the nation have a constitution that explicitly protects the right to keep and bear arms. What the previous president brought about by executive decree, his successor wiped away using the same method. Where, one might wonder, will those violent crime statistics fall when the next election rolls around in 2026, after a full term of strict gun control under Lula?
“We cannot allow there to be arsenals of weapons in the hands of people,” President Lula said in a speech announcing the new gun control regulations. “That is why we will continue to fight for a disarmed country. It is the Brazilian police who have to be well armed, it is the Brazilian armed forces who have to be well armed. What we need to lower is the price of books, and the price of access to cultural things that our children do not have access to.”
Under the new rules, civilians are only allowed to own two firearms for self-defense, and they have no access to 9mm, .40, .45 ACP, or any semi-automatic smoothbore firearms or ammunition. The number of bullets each gun owner is allowed to buy in a year also dropped from 200 – which was barely enough for one good range day, to begin with – to a mere 50. The sad fact is that a “stockpile” of 50 rounds a year is far more dangerous than one of 200 – or 20,000 for that matter. With just 50 bullets to last 365 days, few armed civilians are going to “train” even occasionally – and none are going to train remotely close to adequately. Without any practice at all putting bullets on target down range, Brazilian shooters are about as likely to wound or kill uninvolved bystanders as they are the actual criminals during a stressful self-defense situation – perhaps even more so, depending on the circumstances.
The Second Amendment Abroad
The Second Amendment to the US Constitution inspired other countries to enshrine that same right to bear arms for their own citizens. Bolivia, Costa Rica, Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua, Liberia, Guatemala, and Mexico all added such provisions in their constitutions. All but Guatemala and Mexico have since revoked that right entirely. Even then, the “right” to own a firearm was heavily restricted.
Article Ten of the 1857 Mexican Constitution ensured “every man has the right to keep and to carry arms for his security and legitimate defense.” That was amended 60 years later in 1917, however, after the revolution. Now, Mexicans must contend with vague federal regulations (much like what Democrats and the Biden administration have attempted to implement in the US), corruption and delays in the permitting process, and the fact that the entire country has only one firearm store located on a heavily guarded army base in Mexico City. Insider reported late last year that a mere 38 guns are sold per day on average, while hundreds more are smuggled in from the US.
Guatemala’s current constitution, established in 1985, declares: “The right to own weapons for personal use, not prohibited by the law, in the place of inhabitation, is recognized.” But then the document adds that there will not be “an obligation to hand them over, except in cases ordered by a competent judge.” Gun ownership isn’t as common in Guatemala as in the US, but it’s far easier to get a firearm there than in Mexico.
In the US, of course, we have the original: the Second Amendment of 1791, which inspired the rest. “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,” it reads – and for the first 146 of this nation’s 229 years, “shall not be infringed” ruled supreme. That all changed, of course, with the National Firearms Act of 1934, which set into motion a chain reaction of knee-jerk legislation further eroding that foundational right over the years, from the Gun Control Act of 1968 through to the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act of 2022.
Words of Warning From Venezuela
The right – or, in many places, privilege – to keep and bear arms is slowly dying, both in America and across the globe. As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20. As Brazil prepared in 2018 for the incoming pro-gun president, Liberty Nation reported some words of warning from Venezuela. Though Venezuela never had a constitutional right to bear arms, guns weren’t quite prohibited – until 2012, that is, when the National Assembly passed the “Control of Arms, Munitions and Disarmament Law.” It took effect in 2013 and officially banned the sale of guns or ammo to anyone outside the government.
The people of Venezuela generally didn’t see any need to be armed to protect themselves from a tyrannical government – until it was too late, of course. Then-President Hugo Chaves initially offered amnesty to anyone who turned over their guns willingly. When that failed, however, he quickly turned to confiscation. His successor, Nicolas Maduro, continued that enforcement. As things got worse in Venezuela, the people attempted to protest. But they didn’t have a right to do that, either, and without an adequately armed population, they were largely powerless to stop the totalitarian socialist government. As LN reported in December of 2018, almost 200 protesters had been gunned down since the spring of 2017.
Liberty in Venezuela went into a death spiral – just as it has in many of those nations that once protected the right to keep and bear arms only to later give it up. As Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva continues to clamp down on firearm freedoms, one can’t help but wonder if they’re on that same road to ruin. Indeed, one wonders given the attempts by President Biden and American Democrats to do the same, if the US hasn’t started down that path, as well.
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