Gun Control in Venezuela is easier said than done


On the night of August 12th, a small Sucre Municipality (a.k.a. Petare) Police Post near a shopping mall was attacked by four armed thugs. Two police officers were wounded and are now in stable condition. As the picture shows, the perpetrators had enough firepower to engage the police and were not afraid to use it.

From Venezuelan cities to smaller towns and now especially inside our prisons, having easy access to all kinds to firearms is a given for criminal bands. As a direct example of the consequences of this, homicides in Caracas reached a historical high in the first six months of 2012.

The most recent public safety plan (and 19th since Chavez took power) presented by the Chavernment is big on gun control: Civilians can no longer buy any kind of guns, they have accelerated the destruction of illegal weapons and they will even give police forces a new kind of marked ammunition, made by CAVIM.

That is a stable door being shut well after the horse has bolted.

And not even shut. The Disarmament Bill remains stalled in the National Assembly. Months ago, the bill was close to pass by joint support of Chavismo and opposition (really unusual these days) but then a new text made by the Presidential Commission on Disarmament gave Chavismo an excuse to delay its approval once again.

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  1. I’m not sure I follow. Why exactly would you want to have gun control in Venezuela? You really want honest citizens to be unable to defend themselves against criminals to which no laws, gun or otherwise, apply?

    • Obviously I don’t want criminals to have guns. I’m personally believe that access to guns should be heavily restricted to those who have the legal, psychological and otherwise requirements to do so. The Chavernment’s current approach of disarm those who buy legal guns to defend themselves is wrong IMHO. However, I do think gun control is necessary in the end to control legal weapons and get rid of those illegal ones.

      • The problem with that argument is that there is NO WAY criminals will surrender their ill-aquired weapons just because of some law. I mean, they can’t control guns inside prisons, and I bet there is a law in place that says you cannot have firearms while incarcerated. Killing, robberies and other types of violence with the use of firearms is high in Venezuela because the laws that are already in place are NOT applied. We don’t need another black-on-white on guns to have criminals whipe their asses with. We need a rule of law, a Estado de Derecho. How come there are no Gun-Control laws in most of the U.S., and yet they are able to have gun-free prisons and a much lower homicide rate than Little Venice?

        • I am a little confused about your argument here. I think one must strive for gun control. Guns are dangerous tools that are really don’t needed in a civilized and modern society other than for those that practice game hunting.

          When you have to “defend” your self, then the sate has failed you, because we created the state, even under the most liberal notions, to protect us. We want, at the bare minimum a government that provides protection.

          Criminals won’t surrender their guns, but one can create “carrots and sticks” to help them surrender, and with more effective police forces, eventually they will be surrendered.

          I agree with you in that first we need a rule of law, that’s a must. But we also need gun control.

          • What is so confusing? You can’t outlaw gun possession. Most clear example is that prisons, which ought to be the most guarded and most efficient places to enforce gun control, are a joke.

            Seriously folks, do you really trust the state to have the monopoly of guns? Let’s assume we live in a civilized society. What happens if someone uncivilized gets in power? This happened in Germany before Hitler got into power.

            Everytime you see a nutcase or a gangster firing a gun and killing innocent people for an argument pro gun-banning, think of the danger of having an armed state and an unarmed society:

          • Yes, government in Venezuela is ineffective in jails. It is a consequence of poor prison management.

            It is a fallacy to say that guns should be allowed because the state is ineffective to provide security or because we don’t trust the state. We, as a society, must strive to create a government that a) we can trust and b) provides security. Unless, of course, you are an anarchist and you believe in no government whatsoever.

            Guns should not be outlaw. That’s not what gun control is. Gun control is precisely knowing who has one, what type of gun that person has and that person is not a nutcase. It also means that guns that allowed to be sold to the public are those that are used for sport. That being target shooting or game hunting. An Uzi, an AK47 or a grenade aren’t use for those purposes but to shoot at other.

          • In a democracy, governments are alternated in a regular basis. Even if you find the awesome state that makes everything work just fine, society will eventually choose someone that just wants the power for himself. That’s why people should be armed. Germany in the 1930s were part of the first world, a civilized (unarmed) people.

            Quite frankly I don’t know if I wanna live in a society that doesn’t allow me to defend myself. And the problem is that most people in Venezuela are in the same page as you. Enjoy your fascist state!

          • The state is the very reason we should OPPOSE gun control laws. As long as we have a big entity that, as it keeps growing, wants to controls more and more aspects of our lives, we don’t need any gun control laws.
            That part about guns not belonging in a civilized world does not belong in a world where despots threaten your freedom day in and day out.

          • Ricardo,
            There are regulations that I would oppose and other that I would agree with. It seems to me that you don’t believe in the notion of government. If that’s the case the debate is much more complex than just about gun control. But if one has effective institutions and a rule of law I don’t see the need for guns.

            If you read my post I ask for rule of law first and then for gun control. If you had that, you had check and balances, you had effective institutions, then, what are the guns for? If you want to shoot cans in your back yard that cool, but let everyone else know that you have a gun, that you are mentally stable, that you know how to use it and that it is for recreational purposes only.

    • One of the miserable ironies of bolivarian socialism is that justice gets “privatized” in this manner in the absence of the state.

  2. Except that in Venezuela you have to get the “rule of law” and “control” part going before you begin with any sort of control, be it guns or motor vehicles. When there’s even a license involved, many are just given away through simple bribery, to the politically connected, even to criminal elements among the politically connected. If you don’t begin by cleaning things, you are going nowhere however many loud vows and oaths you make.

    If military rifles make their way from Army to prisons and if police badges and permits for such weapons appear in the hand of notorious criminals… How do you expect or pretend that making life impossible for people who bother to apply lawfully for a civilian kind of weapon is going to help? It would not, not even in the best of circumstances, and we are in the worst possible circumstances here. Welcome to Venezuela! Not Japan! V-E-N-E-Z-U-E-L-A. People here own weapons, and it best be legally. You have just tried to ban alcohol in Northern Europe. Worked… Not! Try the Arabian Peninsula.

    It’s just the “pendejos” who are not a threat and who have no money who get trapped by the rules or absence thereof, as always. Just like making life miserable through nightmarish bureaucracy or outright prohibitions for legal immigrants or people aspiring to be legal. What you get is fraud, organized crime, serious offenses, and many illegal and unregistered people, totally helpless. Going after the people purchasing a gun legally or making it almost impossible would have just one class of results. Unintended ones, that is.

    Of course the criminals could not care less about gun control or prohibition, just as the criminals running floating deathtraps across the Mediterranean could not care less about customs or paperwork. These have to be punished for what they have done, with aggravating circumstances and additional charges for just having having a gun on them. Anyone caught giving a gun to a minor to commit crime, or to a convicted criminal should face hard time.


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