While Brazilians flock to firearms training in preparation for incoming pro-gun president Jair Bolsonaro, the people of Venezuela can only dream of such liberty. The Venezuelan National Assembly passed the “Control of Arms, Munitions and Disarmament Law” in 2012. It took effect in 2013, officially banning the commercial sale of guns and ammo to anyone outside the government.
Venezuelans, for the most part, didn’t see much need for owning guns to defend against tyranny. Now they know better, and some are offering words of warning, via interviews with Fox News.
Hindsight in Venezuela
“Guns would have served as a vital pillar to remaining a free people, or at least able to put up a fight,” said the now exiled Venezuelan English teacher, Javier Venegas. “The government security forces, at the beginning of this debacle, knew they had no real opposition to their force. Once things were this bad, it was a clear declaration of war against an unarmed population.”
It was already very difficult to get a firearm legally, as ownership required a government issued permit. The process of obtaining one was slow and rife with corruption, as bribes to speed the process up were common. Only one department was allowed to issue the licenses, and there were only eight gun stores in the country.
After the ban, then-President Hugo Chavez offered an amnesty program to allow the people to trade their arms in for other goods, though only 37 did. Over 12,500 were confiscated by force. His successor, Nicolas Maduro, continued to enforce the law, often making a public spectacle of destroying weapons.
The Nature of Government
As Liberty Nation’s Andrew Moran has shown, things only got worse in Venezuela as time went on. Finally understanding the dangers of totalitarian socialism, many have protested, advocating change to a more democratic method. Almost 200 of them have been killed since the spring of 2017, gunned down by the government.
How did this happen?
“Venezuelans didn’t care enough about it,” Venegas explained. “The idea of having the means to protect your home was seen as only needed out in the fields. People never would have believed they needed to defend themselves against the government. Venezuelans evolved to always hope that our government would be non-tyrannical, non-violator of human rights, and would always have a good enough control of criminality.”
…they didn’t realize what they were losing in time to stop it.
There’s an old story about a scorpion asking a frog to ferry it across a river. The frog voices its suspicions, but the scorpion argues – quite logically – that stinging his ride would only doom them both. Convinced that surely his tiny passenger wouldn’t commit suicide just to kill him, the frog agrees. Even if you haven’t heard this one, you can probably tell where it’s going.
Just like the scorpion, governments tend to be incapable – and often unwilling – to overcome their oppressive and destructive nature once the people trade liberty for the illusion of security.
“If guns had been a stronger part of our culture, if there had been a sense of duty for one to protect their individual rights, and as a show of force against a government power – and had legal carry been a common thing – it would have made a huge difference,” Venegas told Fox.
But by the time Venegas and his countrymen realized their error, it was too late. You can’t even buy an airsoft or BB gun – not even a slingshot – unless you’re a police or military officer. Get caught carrying or selling such a prohibited weapon and you’ll do 20 years in prison.
Liberty’s Death Spiral
While it may be tempting to say we’re a long way from Venezuela, it always starts somewhere. Venezuelans have been conditioned to trust their government entirely, so they didn’t realize what they were losing in time to stop it.
When the anti-gun left tells you how much safer we all are without firearms, keep this in mind: Giving in on even one gun control measure is the beginning of liberty’s death spiral. With each new restriction, we lose our freedom at an accelerated rate. It isn’t just the right for some people to have guns that keeps us free; it’s the cultural understanding that the reason we bear arms to begin with is to stop government tyranny. Let’s learn from Venezuela’s example – so we don’t become them.