“If guns had been a stronger part of our culture, it would have made a huge difference.”
Amid ongoing Tuesday protests by forces opposed to President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, a Fox News interview with citizens from several months ago is receiving renewed attention.
Under the regime of Hugo Chavez, Maduro’s predecessor, Venezuela banned the commercial sale of firearms and ammunition in 2012, the BBC reported. Since then, private citizens have been prohibited from owning firearms, leaving the ability to purchase guns to state-approved groups such as the police, army and security companies.
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In December, Fox News interviewed Venezuelan citizens who expressed regret over the gun ban’s effect on their ability to oppose what they characterized as an oppressive government.
“Guns would have served as a vital pillar to remaining a free people, or at least able to put up a fight,” Javier Vanegas, 28, a Venezuelan teacher of English now exiled in Ecuador, told Fox News at the time. “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.”
While citizens could receive 20-years in prison for not complying with the new law, Vanegas said people at the time didn’t see much of a reason to own guns anyway.
“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 said. “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.”
Vanegas explained that unlike in the United States, gun rights weren’t ingrained into the Venezuelan political identity.
“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.
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David Kopel, a policy analyst, and research director at the Independence Institute and adjunct professor of Advanced Constitutional Law at Denver University, told Fox news that the situation is a prime example of what can happen when people allow the government a monopoly on firearms.
“Venezuela shows the deadly peril when citizens are deprived of the means of resisting the depredations of a criminal government, Kopel said. “The Venezuelan rulers – like their Cuban masters – apparently viewed citizen possession of arms as a potential danger to a permanent communist monopoly of power.”
During an MSNBC segment Tuesday regarding the ongoing tumult in Venezuela, reporter Kerry Sanders explained how the country’s gun control measures had allowed Maduro to remain in power.
“You have to understand, in Venezuela gun ownership is not something that’s open to everybody. So if the military have the guns, they have the power. And as long as Nicolas Maduro controls the military, he controls the country,” Sanders said.
In widely disseminated footage, which purportedly shows a government military vehicle mowing down protesters, pro-Guaido Venezuelans can be seen hurling rocks at Maduro forces.
Other videos show similar incidents of protesters fighting armored vehicles with rocks:
Clashes erupt in Venezuela, with protesters throwing rocks at armored vehicles.
Both President Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido have claimed military support pic.twitter.com/AVjDpK9ZI5
— TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) April 30, 2019
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