It’s what happens to gun owners and freedom when a lawless, leftwing, socialist president who doesn’t like America, who uses the power of his office to intimidate his political opponents, and who will do nearly anything to preserve his power gets elected. On Sunday, Nicholas Maduro, the president of Venezuela, announced that he will spend $47 million for 60 civilian disarmament centers, where people can turn in their privately owned guns. Venezuela banned the commercial sale of guns in 2012, and Maduro--continuing the fundamental transformation of the country begun by his predecessor, Hugo Chavez--now says “We are building peace from within, and for that, you need disarmament.”
Venezuelans ought to think twice before handing over weapons they may need to defend against a “peace” worse than the one under which they currently live. It’s already pretty bad, and it’s moving in the wrong direction.
In March 2013, the Washington Post noted that Maduro is silencing independent news organizations. The same month, the Post said “inflation is among the highest in the world, power outages are routine and consumers are plagued with shortages of basic goods.” The following month the Post noted that Maduro, “a former bus driver and Cuban protégé” initially courted by President Barack Obama, prohibited Venezuelans from protesting the results of his questionable election. In June, the Post said that protesters now object to “food shortages, the suppression of free speech, inflation soaring above 60 percent and a stratospheric crime rate,” but “the Obama administration has opposed imposing any sanctions.” And last month, the Post said that Venezuela may soon “suffer a catastrophic economic collapse,” because the “economically illiterate” Maduro believes “our problems are the result of economic war waged by the opposition and private business.”
Because it’s a clear threat to freedom, Maduro’s plan to disarm civilians is popular in certain quarters. The government of Communist China, which prohibits people from having guns, which killed 1.5 million people during its Great Proletarian Revolution, and which condemns American gun ownership as a human rights violation, applauds it. No doubt gun control supporters in this country do as well.
Civilian disarmament can take many forms and can progress at different rates. Getting people to hand over their guns can even be encouraged with monetary compensation in the form of so-called “buy-back” programs. We can only hope that Venezuelans understand, as American gun owners do, that freedom, once lost, cannot be bought for what, in the long run, amounts to pocket change.