National Security

The Ultimate Results of National Gun Control

Our Second Amendment is the bedrock of the gun owner’s right to keep and bear arms. Many say that the Second Amendment was only for militias, not the people. The other argument is that the ability of the people to have arms is to protect them from an over-repressive government gone amok. Of course, this is not something that would ever happen.

The Second Amendment language is: 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.

Consider the many and continuous moves among the gun control crowds that continuously call for the repeal of the Second Amendment. They say the people do not need guns. They do make some exceptions for strictly hunting, but even that would be controlled. The moves in this direction always predominantly come from the left: the Democrats and the Socialists. It is getting hard to tell them apart, by the way.

So, What Could Happen?

We have only to look to the south. Venezuela is  a perfect example of government gun control in the extreme. Venezuela serves as a telling test-bed of how gun prohibition can sometimes encourage gun crime.

Venezuela’s economy, once Latin America’s most vibrant, is now worse than Syria’s. The country has the world’s worst inflation at more than 1.3 million percent, rendering its currency almost worthless. Food has grown so scarce that seventy-five percent of citizens report involuntary weight loss, averaging 19 pounds in a year. The citizens of the country under the current regime’s policies are starving. President Nicolás Maduro routinely blames the United States for his woes but refuses to change strategies that have forced Venezuela into this economic tailspin.

The policies of President Maduro’s socialist government are destroying the country just like those of his predecessor, Hugo Chavez.

A Little History

In 2012, the communist-dominated Venezuelan National Assembly enacted the “Control of Arms, Munitions and Disarmament Law.” The bill’s stated objective was to “disarm all citizens.” The new law stopped citizens from purchasing firearms. With token pushback from the opposition, the law went into effect in 2013.

President/Dictator Chavez initially ran a months-long amnesty program encouraging Venezuelans to trade their arms for electrical goods. That program was a miserable failure with only 37 voluntary surrenders. He then turned to forced confiscation where more than 12,500 confiscations of privately-owned firearms were taken by force. Following Chavez’s death in 2014, President Maduro continued the socialist “Chavista” policies and put more than $47 million in funds his government didn’t have into enforcing the gun ban. Now with the citizens only able to flee a country that no longer can support itself, resentment against a six-year-old gun control bill that stripped citizens of their weapons is growing.

Tear gas, and plastic pellet gunshot used by Venezuela’s National Police against a protest in Altamira, Caracas. (Credit: Andrés E. Azpúrua/Wikimedia Commons)

In an interview with Fox News, Javier Vanegas, a Venezuelan English teacher said: “Guns would have served as a vital pillar to remaining a free people, or at least able to put up a fight.” With the public disarmed the government security forces had no real opposition. What resulted was “a clear declaration of war against an unarmed population. Venezuelans didn’t care enough about it. 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,” Vanegas explained, adding, “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. 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.”

Since April 2017, almost 200 unarmed pro-democracy protesters calling for an end to the oppressive socialist regime in Venezuela were killed by government forces in retaliation. Once an oil-wealthy nation, Venezuela has continued its downward free-fall into financial ruin, mass human rights violations, and extreme violence. The United Nations estimates over three million Venezuelans have been forced to flee since 2015.

Just like the discussion here in the U.S. that gun control is only designed to reduce crime and gun violence, when the laws disarm the public only those that don’t follow the law will have weapons, and that is exactly the situation in Venezuela.

In Venezuela, the bill was sold to the population as a hardline effort to improve security and sharply reduce crime. But now it is clear that Venezuela is a case study for how gun prohibition can actually produce the opposite effect. Banning guns does not take guns off the street, it only restricts gun possession to criminals. Remember that the criminals don’t care about the law. Just as access by criminals to weapons here in the U.S through illegal avenues in areas where gun control laws are the strictest, the Venezuelan black market in weapons is also thriving.

“The black market of weapons is very active, mostly used by violent criminals,” said Johan Obdola, a former counter-narcotics chief in Venezuela and now president of Latin America-focused, Canada-based global intelligence and security firm IOSI. “Venezuelans simply looking to protect themselves from the regime are totally vulnerable. Without a doubt, if there had been a balance of armed defense we could have stood up and stopped the oppression at the beginning,” he contended.

Venezuela shows the deadly peril when citizens are deprived of the means of resisting the depredations of a criminal government,” said David Kopel, a policy analyst and research director at the Independence Institute and adjunct professor of Advanced Constitutional Law at Denver University. “The Venezuelan rulers – like their Cuban masters – apparently viewed citizen possession of arms as a potential danger to a permanent communist monopoly of power.”

Are There Other Examples?

In Russia, the Bolshevik Revolution ended ownership of guns among the general public. The leaders of that uprising knew the capability of a well-armed populace. In 1918, the Bolsheviks initiated a large-scale confiscation of civilian firearms, putting an end to gun ownership among the general public. Limited exceptions were made for hunters who were allowed to possess smoothbore weapons. It was only a matter of time before Russia became an almost totally gun-free nation. Russia now allows some gun ownership and has one-tenth the number of guns per 100 people than the U.S. does but more than three times the homicide rate.

The examples are clear, and all one has to do is look at the fallen and failed governmental systems. One of the very first actions these authoritarian governments took was to protect themselves from their own citizens by banning private ownership of guns. The very thing that many gun owners in the U.S. are worried about, the government coming to take their firearms, happened in these countries under the guise of crime control.

A very insightful article written by OpsLens contributor Chris Wagoner makes excellent points. Many of the gun control laws that have been enacted in some of the most restrictive areas, namely California, have had the opposite effect from what they were purported to do. Once again, the example shown by the results of these gun control measures are very apparent. Crime does not go down because of the new gun control laws. The fact of the matter is, here in the U.S. where so far guns are legally available to the honest and law-abiding citizens, the rate of gun violence is lower than many places in the world with much tighter controls such as Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, and Venezuela.

Worldwide, the U.S. sees fewer gun-related murders than many of its southern neighbors per capita. According to the Small Arms Survey, in El Salvador, guns kill more than 90 people for every 100,000 of the population. From 2010-2015, Honduras saw averages of gun-related homicides at 67 out of every 100,000 people in that country. Venezuela was close behind over the same five-year period, with 52 gun-related killings for every 100,000 of the population. Remember, Venezuela has a gun ban for the public. The U.S. rate over that period is 4.5 gun-related homicides per 100,000 people.

I think those on the left, those that see the gun as the problem, believe that by banning public ownership of firearms they will have found a cure for all sorts of ills. They are turning a blind eye to fact and figures. They are negating the examples staring them in the face.  But then again when did facts ever matter when ideology is involved.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Jon Harris

Jon Harris is a former Army NCO, Sergeant Morales Club member, civilian law enforcement officer, and defense contractor with over 30 years in the law enforcement community. He is published in Army Trainer Magazine, authored regular columns in several newspapers, and is the author of the Cold War novel Breakpoint. His adventures as a security contractor in Afghanistan and Iraq can be found on www.dispatchfromdownrange.com. He holds a B.S. in Government and Politics and an M.S. in Criminal Justice and is currently completing his Juris Doctor degree.

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