“You have to understand, in Venezuela, gun ownership is not something that is open to everybody. So if the military have the guns, they have the power, and as long as Nicolás Maduro controls the military, he controls the country.”
That was a statement from MSNBC’s Kerry Sanders Tuesday as Venezuelans took to the streets to demand an end to the tyrannical socialist regime of dictator Nicolas Maduro. His words, while they might have very well raised some blood pressure among the hosts and higher-ups at the network, are a stark reminder for freedom-loving people everywhere of how critical the right of self-defense is to human liberty.
Sanders’ admission happened on the same day that unarmed civilian protestors were plowed over by one of Maduro’s armored vehicles and as defected military members fired back on Maduro forces in order to protect protesters.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) April 30, 2019
— Giovanni C. (@giovannicavett) April 30, 2019
And this all happened to a people who were stripped of their ability to defend themselves against their own government. In 2012, the country’s legislature passed a sweeping gun ban that outlawed private firearms ownership.
“Venezuelans are now defenseless against a government that runs roughshod over their civil liberties, while also destroying their economic livelihood,” reads a January post from the Mises Institute. “As if it weren’t enough, everyday Venezuelans must put up with rampant crime and the constant threat of colectivos, Venezuela’s infamous pro-government paramilitary units.”
A 2018 report from Fox News found that several oppressed Venezuelans regretted their country’s gun ban after years of socialist oppression. “Guns would have served as a vital pillar to remaining a free people, or at least able to put up a fight,” a 28-year-old English teacher told the outlet.
But, lest we forget, what the world watched happen on Tuesday isn’t without historical precedent.
The Soviet Union confiscated and banned guns to consolidate its control over multiple Eastern European countries. The Third Reich’s genocide was largely assisted by Nazi Party gun control measures in the 1930s. The Cambodian genocide was also preceded by strict gun control policies. The Armenians slaughtered in 1915 were rendered largely defenseless by Ottoman Empire gun laws.
That is not to say that what’s happening in Venezuela is equivalent to genocide (there are the legal thresholds for that), and it’s not to say that gun control always precedes tyranny or crimes against humanity as a rule. But what history does show us, time and time again, is that people are a whole lot easier to oppress when there’s zero chance they’ll be able to fire back when you send in government agents to oppress them.
This is the kind of easy-to-oppress population that King George III’s forces were trying to create for themselves when they went searching for patriot weapons and powder caches at Lexington and Concord in 1775. And that’s precisely why they were met with gunfire from privately owned muskets when they showed up and demanded that the patriot militiamen drop their weapons and disperse.
And that’s why we have the right to keep and bear arms codified into our Bill of Rights, no matter how much the rest of the world or how many of our own citizens scoff at its existence, and it’s why any freedom-loving people should think twice before doing anything to disarm themselves.