On Saturday, Fox News published a lengthy piece by reporter Hollie McKay that offers a compelling case for gun rights that includes the insights of an exiled Venezuelan dissident forced to watch as his fellow citizens are crushed by the increasingly tyrannical and brutal socialist government .
In 2013, the "Control of Arms, Munitions and Disarmament Law," a gun control bill passed a year earlier by Hugo Chavez's socialist regime, systematically wiped out gun ownership rights in Venezuela. Five years later, the people have no recourse against an out of control government.
Javier Vanegas, a 28-year-old English teacher who now lives in exile in Ecuador, told Fox News that what was initially promoted as an attempt to reduce crime and protect the people was, in reality, a "declaration of war against an unarmed population."
"Guns would have served as a vital pillar to remaining a free people, or at least able to put up a fight," said Vanegas. "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."
McKay reports that the gun control law, which carried the explicit goal of "disarm[ing] all citizens," was passed in 2012 but went into effect in 2013, and was met with "only minimal pushback from some pro-democracy opposition figures." The law banned all guns and ammunition sales. Chavez offered an amnesty program where guns could be traded in for electrical goods, but an overwhelming majority, some 12,500, were taken "by force."
"Venezuelans didn’t care enough about it," said Vanegas."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. 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," he said.
Nicolás Maduro continued to push Chavez's disarmament campaign, spending over $47 million on the effort in 2014. Now, BB and airsoft guns and even slingshots are forbidden. Selling anything deemed a banned weapon carries a 20-year prison sentence.
McKay highlights some of the alarming violence-related statistics in Venezuela, including the nearly 200 pro-democracy protesters, "armed mostly with stones," shot dead by government forces in April 2017, and crime rates that skyrocketed after guns were seized from citizens (from 6,5000 murders in 2001 to 28,000 in 2015). "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," writes McKay.