Venezuela is a Case Study for What Can Happen to a Disarmed Population

The people have no way of protecting themselves against government-funded gangs. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Venezuela’s 2012 Disarmament Law banned the private ownership of firearms, and now, according to a new report, its citizens are beginning to realize how gun rights could have kept crime and government tyranny at bay.

“Guns would have served as a vital pillar to remaining a free people, or at least able to put up a fight,” Javier Vanegas, a Venezuelan teacher of English now exiled in Ecuador, told Fox News. “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.”

Under then-President Hugo Chavez, the “Control of Arms, Munitions and Disarmament Law” took effect in 2013 and banned the legal commercial sale of guns and munitions to all except government entities. Only 37 firearms were voluntarily surrendered, and over 12,500 were confiscated by force, which represents a small percentage of the country’s estimated one to six million firearms.

But banning law-abiding citizens from firearms ownership has meant that the only entities with access to guns are criminal organizations, some of which, known as “colectivos,” act as proxies for government forces to stamp down pro-democracy opposition.

“They were set up by the government to act as proxies and exert community control. They’re the guys on the motorcycles in the poor neighborhoods, who killed any protesters,” Vanessa Neumann, the Venezuelan-American president and founder of Asymmetrica, a Washington, D.C.-based political risk research and consulting firm, told Fox. “The gun reform policy of the government was about social control. As the citizenry got more desperate and hungry and angry with the political situation, they did not want them to be able to defend themselves. It was not about security; it was about a monopoly on violence and social control.”

SEE ALSO: DC Homicide Rates Rise Despite Aggressive Gun Confiscation

Now Venezuelan citizens are beginning to regret surrendering their right to own a firearm.

“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 continued. “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.”

Another man, Eduardo Espinel, fled the country due to the rising threat of kidnapping. He told Fox News that “everyone else but the common citizen” has access to a firearm.

“This law asks for the disarming of the common people, but everyone else can carry,” Espinel said. “The kind of law might make sense in a normal country, but in Venezuela, it makes no sense. People are faced with crime and have no easy means to defend themselves.”

Maribel Arias, who also fled the country two years ago with her husband and four children, expressed a similar concern.

“The people of Venezuela should have rights for gun carrying because there is just too much crime and people should have the right to defend themselves because the justice system is not working,” Arias asserted. “If you call the police, the police come only if they want. If they capture the criminal maybe they will take away whatever they stole, but they normally go free again. It’s a vicious cycle.”

Venezuela’s leaders deny the country’s economic collapse, exploding violence, and human rights violations. Instead, they blame the United States and opposition leaders for waging an “economic war.”

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over four years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco. Follow him on Instagram @bornforgoodluck and email him at jordan@gunsamerica.com.

{ 20 comments… add one }
  • Mike Watkins December 29, 2018, 1:40 pm

    I have liberals/socialists in my family, unfortunately. They simply do not believe the reports about how bad things are in Venezuela. Like the person Winston who posts here, they believe the Chavez/Maduro government has been fair and wonderful, and they believe reports to the contrary are lies from the capitalists and elitists on the right in the US.

    So if you tell them them that Venezuelans are subject to strict gun control, they think “Great! People don’t need guns in a Socialist Paradise! That’s what we in the US should strive for .”

    If we keep electing idiots like Ocasio-Cortez, guess that’s where we will end up.

  • JOHN T. FOX December 28, 2018, 1:25 pm

    WHETHER IT WAS HITLER WITH HIS BROWN SHIRTS OR STALIN AND MAO WITH THE COMMUNISTS THE RESULT IS ALWAYS THE SAME: THE LAW ABIDING CITIZEN BECOMES A SLAVE TO A TOTALITARIAN GOVT, AND THE GOVT AND CRIMINALS REMAIN ARMED! IN AMERICA THE DAMN DEMS AND RINO/CINO REPUBLICANS ARE THE ONES PLAYING THE ROLE OF THE NATZIS AND COMMUNINISTS!

  • Wayne R Cook December 28, 2018, 12:12 pm

    Perhaps the most notorious of the colectivos aggression was the night they murdered a banker’s family at 1am. They fled the scene when they discovered it was a woman and her daughters. Colectivos are exactly that, Murderers with government support. Gangs with a license to kill. Motorcycle mounted they look for as much trouble as they can find and begin firing.

    Of the 512 friends I have in that nation, not one has not protested against the gangs…and without guns. They are determined to prove they can bring down the government without them. Everytime I think of them I weep. I grew up as a teen in Bolivia and Peru, both socialist in the 60’s and 70’s, and witnessed the bloodthirsty police gun down students in both countries.

    Venezuela owes whatever is left to China for an extension of a 20 billion note Maduro negotiated. They will someday end up as a satellite nation, China at our southern shoreline.

    • Winston December 28, 2018, 2:08 pm

      The reason there is little opposition in VEN is because the people are behind the government and against the Soros-led neo-liberal US State Dept. The US has been trying to install another pro-Wall Street elitist puppet there since Chavez threw out the subversives, and the population knows that. US media are liars.

      • Richard Goulette December 29, 2018, 11:19 am

        I know there is a VERY large opposition but, they are without power. Without guns, money or any means to change the government, what can they do. (Or, you can be pro-government…… ) There are some who are pro-government. These are the malandros the government gives guns, money, drugs or whatever they want to keep the real civilians in check. Unfortunately the malandros don’t realize or care they are the problem. All they see is a “good life / good time”. You get to be a pirate without anyone stopping you. Ride around on your motorcycle and shoot anyone. Take anything you want. Become a hero for the government. Why stop a good thing? It is truly so sad.

  • Michael J December 28, 2018, 11:20 am

    Sounds like the people of Venezuela have a lot of regrets, but the liberals that embrace it never seem to learn from the failures of socialist doctrines.
    A balance of power is always a deterent to sheep led to the slaughter. Society that fails to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

  • KurtW December 28, 2018, 11:03 am

    Bu-Bu-Bu-But wonderful superfantastic Socialist UTOPIA!!!!!

  • Richard Goulette December 28, 2018, 9:54 am

    Reply to above comments: Yes there are a lot of guns in the hands of civilians BUT…. they are in the hands of the criminals and / or the pro government gangs. I’m sure you’ve all heard if you outlaw guns only the outlaws will have them. This is exactly the situation. My wife is from Venezuela so I have a inside knowledge of what’s going on. Twenty years ago it was getting bad. Express kidnapping and drive by shootings were just getting popular. And, the government did nothing. Chances are you wouldn’t go to jail if you were caught. And,, the inmates in prisons have / had guns. Yes… inmates have guns. And, a lot of them. They know they have to protect themselves or die. And, a lot of people die in jails. There are no meals. You better hope someone cares about you and, you are protected by a gang inside. Or, have a gun. It is truly dog eat dog. Think about that for a minute. Please take these comments and reread the article. We here in the US could never believe of environment like this. But… let the government tell you what is good for you and, this is what happens.

  • RGE December 28, 2018, 9:36 am

    It does no good to own guns without the means to acquire ammunition. 1.2 to 2 million guns in the hands of organized crime, Colectivos and the military and police, does no good for the common citizen either.

    If they want their country back they’ll either have to start a revolution or go to their neighboring countries, beg for guns and ammunition and then re-invade their country and take it back.

    Chavez would’ve pushed this gun law through no matter what.

    In some countries, there are very few gun shops, and one has to obtain all sorts of permits and operate within limitations before they can obtain a weapon and a source of ammunition. I forgot which one it is, but in one country there’s only one gun shop and its owned by the military. To get what you want, you have to wait for it, and probably pay a bribe.

    When governments fear the people, you have liberty. When governments are feared by the people, you have tyranny.

  • D.J. December 28, 2018, 9:31 am

    Is there any need to further discuss the reason for our
    2d ammendment ?
    Opposition to oppressive juntas is clearly exhibit ” A ”
    in this situation, and the whole story of this article .
    This has been on display throughout history . One of
    the first operations of a communist regime , is to disarm
    the populace , to prevent opposition .
    Beware , good citizens , when others in our country
    demand disarmament . Do they have an agenda similar
    to the communists of the past ? Or are they indeed
    communists ” in sheep’s clothing ” ?

  • Carlos Gomez December 28, 2018, 9:13 am

    I read several comments wondering how come with an estimated 1 to 6 million firearms, the general population still can’t fight back. You have to understand something: here in the US we have access to good and effective semi-automatic weapons like AR-15s, AK-47s, M1s, and the list goes on. Down in Venezuela those are considered strictly military use only weapons. Anyone caught with an AR-15 or similar faces a stiff jail sentence on treason or rebellion charges, and trust me, you do not want to be thrown in jail down there.

    So, the general population has “some” weapons, right, but those are mostly revolvers, auto pistols, shotguns, lever action rifles, and hunting rifles. To make it worse, access to ammo is extremely limited or non-existent. I dare any of you tell me how the hell you can defend a country with those restrictions and against a murderous regime, their Russian-supplied weapons, a mostly corrupt and criminal military and law enforcement, and the regime’s “colectivos” roaming about in motorcycles bent on killing anyone protesting and opposing the regime.

    For the small percentage of population with access to US dollars, life is not too bad: they can still buy food, goods, and services however expensive. For those without, they’re living in an apocalyptic world where survival of the fittest is the rule. It is a true survival situation. In either scenario, a de facto curfew is in effect: few people dare venture out of their homes after dusk, when criminal gangs and criminal elements from the military and law enforcement roam at will, raping, maiming, robbing, and murdering anyone on their path.

    Lace that with the element of fear and disorganization and you will understand why the situation is dire for Venezuela, and why we need to be vigilant and continue fighting for our 2A rights.

  • Joe December 28, 2018, 7:11 am

    Somebody down there didn’t do their math homework. With some two million plus guns hiding somewhere I think some of em can defend themselves real good.

    • Dan December 28, 2018, 9:00 am

      Crime is likely to increase in this country due to various reasons, including:

      The clown we have in the White house seems to be doing his best to sabotage the markets, economy, and international relations, which will very likely result in a Democrat winning in 2020, and an end to increased security on our borders. I realize the “wall” was a joke, proposed by an adolescent minded reality star, but we do need increased border security!

      The MASSIVE tax cuts for Corporations and the Wealthy during a time when the government was already insolvent will necessitate MASSIVE cuts to social programs.

      Prison reforms (that are already in the works) will result in early release of criminals who, without social programs to help them transition, will very likely return to crime.

      Political propaganda has become increasingly polarizing, and our Supreme Court allowing unlimited contributions to political candidates has silenced the voice of the people in favor of Corporate interests. If things get bad enough, those without a voice will rebel as they have done throughout history, and polarization may result in their anger being directed toward those with opposing views.

      Etc…

      • Jim Cargill December 28, 2018, 11:08 am

        Dan, there is only one clown here, and it is you. Hating Trump and making false or misleading statements about him do not make you smart…they make you a puppet of the Left. Your side is the one that wants total “gun control”, and they will define whatever that means.

  • Robert December 28, 2018, 6:52 am

    Yes if the populus is armed,how n why did they let this happen?
    PAY ATTENTION PEOPLE THIS IS WHY WE HAVE 2 A

  • Robert Moser December 28, 2018, 6:15 am

    I am confused by this article. If only 37 guns were turned in and 12,500 confiscated, isn’t the general population still armed with the one to six million guns they had???

    • Chris December 28, 2018, 8:32 am

      I’d guess it’s like any prohibition object – you’re afraid to get caught with it, so you keep it hidden. Where before one might have carried it on their person, now its stashed in a drawer under socks and undies, and when you need it, you don’t have it. At least it’s within reach at home. But what happens to you if you use it? You blow a burglar away, then you get hauled off by the bandito coppers.

  • Nick M December 28, 2018, 5:26 am

    Nazi Germany and all the Communist cousins did the same.

    • The Equalizer December 28, 2018, 12:06 pm

      Actually guns were outlawed in Weimar Germany after WWI which was run by the (((tribe))).

  • SuperG December 27, 2018, 10:40 am

    Every dictator knows he must disarm the population in order stay in power.

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