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The government of Venezuela convinced its citizens to give up their guns in 2012, promising them it would mean peace, prosperity and a sharp reduction in violence. Fast forward six years and the nation has some of the highest murder and gun crime rates in the world, worse than many war zones, and Venezuelan citizens now regret giving up their right to bear arms in the face of a government that has turned tyrannical.
As Venezuelan society continues to fall apart under the brutal socialist dictatorship of President Nicolas Maduro, many citizens are now expressing words of warning – and resentment – against a six-year-old gun control bill that forcefully stripped them of their weapons.
“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,” Javier Vanegas, 28, a Venezuelan teacher of English now exiled in Ecuador, told Fox News.
“Guns would have served as a vital pillar to remaining a free people, or at least able to put up a fight,” Vanegas explained.
“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 the direction of then-President Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan National Assembly in 2012 enacted the “Control of Arms, Munitions and Disarmament Law,” with the explicit aim to “disarm all citizens.” The law took effect in 2013, with only minimal pushback from some pro-democracy opposition figures, banned the legal commercial sale of guns and munitions to all – except government entities.
Chavez initially ran a months-long amnesty program encouraging Venezuelans to trade their arms for electrical goods. That year, there were only 37 recorded voluntary gun surrenders, while the majority of seizures – more than 12,500 – were by force.
Although the bill was sold to the population as a hardline effort to improve security, and sharply reduce crime, many now point to Venezuela as a case study for how gun prohibition can actually produce the opposite effect.
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