By Jim Kouri
In a move sure to make the American gun-control lobby green with envy and Second Amendment advocates wary, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s new gun law, which totally bans the commercial sale of firearms and ammunition to civilians, went into effect on Friday, June 1, a police source in Washington, D.C. told the Law Enforcement Examiner.
Until this ban became law, anyone in that South American country with a gun license could purchase firearms and ammunition from privately owned gun shops or sporting goods stores.
With Chavez’s new gun-control law, only the Venezuelan army, police officials and certain groups such as security and private detective firms are allowed to buy firearms, and then only from state-owned weapons manufacturers and importers.
“It’s gun-control on steroids and its nationalizing the firearms industry. And I’m certain American progressives are envious of both actions: banning gun ownership and nationalizing the gun industry,” said the police source who requested anonymity.
According to the Venezuelan news media, the gun ban is the latest attempt by the government to improve security and cut crime ahead of elections in October, but many suspect it’s all part of Chavez’s socialist plan.
According to the Chavez government, Venezuela had more than 18,000 homicides in 2011, a much higher per-capita murder rate than the United States.
As is usually the case in justifying the limiting of gun rights, the government and the government-controlled news media have tied gun ownership by civilians to high crime rates, said gun enthusiast and police firearms trainer Charles “Chuck” Schwan.
According to a press statement, the Chavez government initiated a gun amnesty of sorts in order to phase in the new law and encourage people to give up their weapons peacefully and without incident in order to avoid necessary action such as house-to-house searches and arrests for illegal gun possession.
President Chavez, who has been shuttling back-and-forth from Cuba for medical treatment for cancer, says the goal of his gun program is to simply disarm all civilians. However his opponents say the police and government may not have the manpower or the will to enforce such a law, and many gun owners are suspicious of a government so eager to disarm law-abiding citizens.
The Chavez government claims it is responding to a recent United Nations report on global gun violence. The U.N. study claims that over 70% of all homicides in Latin America are caused by guns. In the U.S., according to the FBI’s Annual Uniform Crime Report, about 24% are committed with firearms.