Anew law in Venezuela bans the sale of guns, requires universal gun registration and threatens to send violators to prison for 20 years. The law, which was "guaranteed" to save lives, was not the work of Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, nor was it suggested by President Obama, but the brainchild of the late Hugo Chavez and signed by his successor, President Nicolas Maduro. Venezuela enacts the dreams of American liberals.
Proponents expect gun violence to disappear from Venezuela now that the possession of a gun is allowed only with the government's explicit permission. Mr. Maduro insists that weapons of war have absolutely no place on the streets. The law defines such "assault weapons" as any pistol that can fire a 9 mm or larger cartridge and any rifle firing anything larger than a .22 long rifle cartridge. Mrs. Feinstein is surely envious.
Friends of the Bolivarian Revolution may be granted a "hunting" exemption that allows them to keep a rifle or two, but under no circumstances will anyone have the right to possess nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction. No H-bombs for the Venezuelan masses.
Even remaining small-caliber ammunition must have a serial number and date engraved on the cartridge, which is a low-tech version of the "microstamping" mandates in fashion in California and New York. The handful of Venezuelans allowed to keep a gun may buy only 51 rounds a year. Reloading ammunition is punishable by eight years in prison.
Venezuela isn't confiscating guns — yet. "The Venezuelan state, in order to safeguard peace ... will encourage the voluntary delivery and recovery of firearms and ammunition, as well as the destruction thereof," the law decrees. The firearms industry will be forced to pay for the incentives used to persuade Venezuelans to turn in their weapons, and a state-run media propaganda campaign will attempt to persuade the public of the "evil of guns." Films that "promote the use of firearms and ammunition" will be censored or forbidden. The latest "Die Hard" sequel or anything by Quentin Tarantino can't be shown now in Caracas.
Venezuela's new law is extreme, but we must be wary in America. In April, a 14-year-old eighth grader in West Virginia was arrested and criminally charged for wearing a National Rifle Association "Protect Your Right" T-shirt to class. The shirt didn't actually violate the school's dress code; the youth stands accused of the made-up "crime" of "disturbing the educational process" and "obstructing an officer" because he refused to remove the shirt. His real offense was reminding his classmates that gun ownership is still a right in this country, and that's a thought liberal school administrators want to suppress.
Human Rights Watch identifies the same trait in the Venezuelan government, and the group urges Mr. Maduro to discontinue the "iron fist" to restrict and intimidate those who speak up. Instead of striving to be more like Venezuela, American liberals ought to realize that suppressing constitutional rights has no place in a free society.
The Washington Times
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