The twenty-eight million citizens of the South American republic of Venezuela will no longer have a right to keep and bear guns. This is in a country that has one of the highest rates of gun crime in the world.
Venezuela had started as one of the most democratic of all Latin American countries. Simon Bolivar, the leader that could best be called 'the George Washington of South America,' was from Venezuela. In fact, the official name of the country is the "Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela."
With that being said, this republic at the top of South America has spent most of the 19th and 20th century under the thumb of one military dictator or another. Even the infamous Hugo Chavez, who billed himself as a socialist revolutionary, was a career Army officer with the weight of the military behind him. His handpicked successor, Nicols Maduro the nominal winner of an election that is decried as irregular, has wasted no time in removing citizens' rights to own firearms.
The ghost of Hugo Chavez stalks his country. Since his 1999 power grab there has been violence of epic proportions in the Latin paradise, making Caracas one of the most dangerous cities in the world.
Venezuela in the past decade has exploded in violence. Since 1999, the murder rate has more than quadrupled.In 2009, 13986 homicides were reported in the country. In 2012, it stood at 18,000. This gives the country a murder rate of about 50 per 100,000 inhabitants. In terms of comparison, in the US, the rate is 4.8 and the global rate was 7.6. To put it another way, you would be ten times more likely to be shot in the neo-socialist paradise of Venezuela than in the US.
Further, in Venezuela about 95% of homicides are by firearms. In the United States, where guns are much more available, only 66% of homicides are by firearms.
(Former Lt Col) Hugo Chavez himself was a great fan of small arms, and bought no less than 100,000 AK-103 assault rifles and 5,000 Dragunov sniper rifles from Russia while President. Many of which went to arm the thugish Bolivarian militia-a paramilitary force directly under Chvez' command. All the while he pushed to disarm his own people.
With a history of military dictatorships, the country has long been um, restrictive, in terms of private gun ownership. Over the years, citizens have been banned from having machineguns, then submachine guns, then semi-automatics, then handguns all together, followed by centerfire rifles.
Up until May 2013, the only legal firearms that a non-law enforcement and non-military citizen of Venezuela could own were pump and break action shotguns and bolt, pump, and break action .22 rimfire rifles. That's it.
And now even these estimated 1.6 million plinkers and hunting tools are being dubbed illegal by the state. How does the government know how many are out there? Well because for decades guns could only be owned if they were registered and every three years, renewed on a license. This is not surprising as the sale both firearms and ammunition had been outlawed since 2012.
The Law for the Control of Firearms, Ammunition, and Disarmament was passed by the National Assembly last week and is set to be enacted into law on June 11.
The penalty for illegal gun ownership was likewise increased from 8 years imprisonment to 20.
There is no word on what the criminals in Venezuela think of the new law, but it is believed that few of the estimated 2.7 million illegally owned firearms would be turned in anytime soon.