Pushed back from the headlines, massive protests against the repressive Nicolas Maduro regime in Venezuela continue.
So do the killings by the "colectivos." If this group of thugs enforcing Maduoro's Chavista socialist nightmare were instead right-wing paramilitary types, they would long since have been christened "death squads" and garnered international attention. A story about the colectivos finally appeared in the Associated Press today. While the coverage by Fabiola Sanchez and Frank Bajak was mostly measured, it completely ignored the fact the colectivos can operate without fear of armed resistance because of government curbs on purchases, transfers, and public carrying of guns.
In June 2012, the BBC reported on one of these measures. Though the headline doesn't match the description of the government's move, what did occur was nonetheless extremely restrictive (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Venezuela bans private gun ownership
Venezuela has brought a new gun law into effect which bans the commercial sale of firearms and ammunition.
Until now, anyone with a gun permit could buy arms from a private company.
Under the new law, only the army, police and certain groups like security companies will be able to buy arms from the state-owned weapons manufacturer and importer.
The ban is the latest attempt by the government to improve security and cut crime ahead of elections in October.
Venezuela saw more than 18,000 murders last year and the capital, Caracas, is thought to be one of the most dangerous cities in Latin America.
The government has been running a gun amnesty in the run-up to the introduction of the new law to try to encourage people to give up their illegal arms without fear of consequences.
Based on what the BBC, reported, the law did not confiscate existing guns.
That said, based on a Townhall post at the time, the law explains why the colectivos can run wild. It's because, while appearing to allow continued possession of guns in the home, the law seemingly forbids the carrying of guns in public:
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.
Second, gun rights help maintain a civil democracy.
As to the first point, the fact that law-abiding citizens can't have guns on the streets has facilitated a 15-year crime spree. Venezuela's murder rate is among the highest in the world, and has quadrupled in the past 15 years.
As to the second point, it is not a coincidence that 15 years ago is roughly when the late Hugo Chavez began to hijack what had been one of Latin America's better-functioning democracies. Information found elsewhere indicates that Chavez encouraged his followers to get their hands on guns while scheming to deprive everyday Venezuelans of their God-given right to self-defense.
With that background, let's look at excerpts from AP's coverage:
ARMED PRO-GOVT MILITIAS ROIL VENEZUELA PROTESTS
The masked gunmen emerged from a group of several dozen motorcycle-mounted government loyalists who were attempting to dismantle a barricade in La Isabelica, a working-class district of Valencia that has been a center of unrest since nationwide protests broke out last month.
... "They were practiced shooters," (local newspaper photographer Lisandro) Barazarte said. "More were armed, but didn't fire."
When it was over, two La Isabelica men were dead: a 22-year-old student, Jesus Enrique Acosta, and a little league baseball coach, Guillermo Sanchez. Witnesses told the AP the first was shot in the head, the second in the back.
... Similar shootings across Venezuela by gunmen allied with the socialist-led government have claimed at least seven lives and left more than 30 people wounded since the anti-government protests began in mid-February.
President Nicolas Maduro has done nothing to publicly discourage the violence by armed pro-government militants, loosely known as "colectivos," which are also blamed for scores more cases of beatings and intimidation in multiple cities.
... In fact, since the protests began, Maduro and his vice president have each welcomed pro-government "motorizados," or motorcyclists, to separate events at the presidential palace - a Feb. 24 rally and a "peace conference" on March 13.
... Daniel Wilkinson, managing director for the Americas for the U.S.-based group Human Rights Watch, said such colectivo violence is nationwide.
If ordinary Venezuelans could freely purchase weapons and carry them in public, crime would come down, and the colectivos would at the very least have to be more discreet and careful in going after their targets. But as seen earlier in the post, all the pressure has been in the direction of disarming citizens, as a naive world press corps pretends that such measures will somehow improve public safety. They don't, and they also leave citizens at the non-tender mercies of their repressive government.
Preventing what has happened in Venezuela is exactly why the Second Amendment exists in the U.S.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.