Helen Whalen Cohen

On Friday, the Venezuelan government banned all private gun ownership. Gun shops will no longer be allowed to sell firearms or ammunition to private citizens. Police and members of the military will be exempted from the ban. Officials told the Associated Press that the measure is meant to stem violent crime:

 

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela's government banned sales of guns and ammunition Friday with a measure that officials said is aimed at fighting rampant violent crime.

Private gun shops are now prohibited from selling guns under the measure, which had been announced previously.

Only the police and the military will be exempt from the ban on gun sales, Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami said.

Critics noted that only a small percentage of guns have recently been sold legally to permit holders and said most gun sales have long been illegal and unregulated.

There's one problem, though. As a lawyer for Venezuela's opposition coalition explained, criminals in Venezuela aren't getting permits for their guns in the first place.

 

Luis Izquiel, a lawyer who heads a security committee for Venezuela's opposition coalition, said that while there are about 25,000 gun permits legally registered with the authorities, there are many more weapons on the streets. In 2010, Amnesty International estimated there were a total of 10 million firearms in the country.

"Here criminals don't use legal firearms," Izquiel said.

Meanwhile, the noted human rights authorities in China released a report putting Second Amendment rights on the list of human rights violations in America.

“The United States prioritizes the right to keep and bear arms over the protection of citizens' lives and personal security and exercises lax firearm possession control, causing rampant gun ownership,” the report claims. “The U.S. people hold between 35 percent and 50 percent of the world' s civilian-owned guns, with every 100 people having 90 guns [and] 47 percent of American adults reported that they had a gun.”

Two things, which gun rights proponents have already said over and again are demonstrated here. First of all, when law abiding citizens aren't allowed to carry, the only people who will have guns are criminals. The police can't be omnipresent (really, would we want them to be?) and sometimes crime will take place before they can reach it. The first article notes Venezuela's high crime rate, which continues to rise in spite of stricter gun regulations. Looser regulations wouldn't stop every crime, but it would help many individual citizens defend themselves against criminals. In any case, taking guns away from the citizenry certainly isn't causing violent crime to fall.

Second, gun rights help maintain a civil democracy. Neither the Venezuelan nor Chinese governments have particularly good track records when it comes to human rights. By maintaining a government monopoly on guns, both can ensure that further abuses are carried out with less protests from the citizenry. Overall, it is sad to see two dictatorial governments making it easier to abuse their citizens as they please while also squelching the possibility for resistance.


Helen Whalen Cohen

Helen Whalen Cohen is Associate Editor and Community Manager at Townhall.com.