In Venezuela last week there was an uprising which so far has failed to overthrow the regime of President Nicolas Maduro. Despite the abysmal conditions the people of that once prosperous nation live under, any uprising by the people has very little chance of success thanks to a long history of strict gun control and a recent outright banning of private ownership of guns. This is chronicled in the Fox News article Venezuelans regret gun ban, ‘a declaration of war against an unarmed population’
Under the direction of then-President Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan National Assembly in 2012 enacted the “Control of Arms, Munitions and Disarmament Law,” with the explicit aim to “disarm all citizens.” The law took effect in 2013, with only minimal pushback from some pro-democracy opposition figures, banned the legal commercial sale of guns and munitions to all – except government entities.
According to Javier Vanegas, who is interviewed in the Fox News article:
“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 explained. “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.”
He said it didn’t take long for such a wide-eyed public perception to fall apart. “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 lamented.
The Mises Institute article A Brief History of Repressive Regimes and Their Gun Laws is very informative. Here is a description of how the Soviet Union instituted gun control.
To maintain its iron grip, the Soviet Union had to turn to the most proven form of suppression— gun confiscation. On December 10, 1918, the Council of People’s Commissar mandated that Soviet citizens turn in their firearms. Failure to do so, led to criminal prosecution.
Soviet gun control laws remained tight in the following decades, although the government did go out of its way to give Communist Party affiliates privileged access to firearms.
Also very informative is the National Review article How the Nazis Used Gun Control. Here are the most important passages:
In 1931, Weimar authorities discovered plans for a Nazi takeover in which Jews would be denied food and persons refusing to surrender their guns within 24 hours would be executed. They were written by Werner Best, a future Gestapo official. In reaction to such threats, the government authorized the registration of all firearms and the confiscation thereof, if required for “public safety.” The interior minister warned that the records must not fall into the hands of any extremist group.
On the surface gun registration may seem harmless. It most often is the first step leading up to gun confiscation, as chronicled in the National Review article.
In 1933, the ultimate extremist group, led by Adolf Hitler, seized power and used the records to identify, disarm, and attack political opponents and Jews. Constitutional rights were suspended, and mass searches for and seizures of guns and dissident publications ensued. Police revoked gun licenses of Social Democrats and others who were not “politically reliable.”
During the five years of repression that followed, society was “cleansed” by the National Socialist regime. Undesirables were placed in camps where labor made them “free,” and normal rights of citizenship were taken from Jews. The Gestapo banned independent gun clubs and arrested their leaders. Gestapo counsel Werner Best issued a directive to the police forbidding issuance of firearm permits to Jews.
In 1938, Hitler signed a new Gun Control Act. Now that many “enemies of the state” had been removed from society, some restrictions could be slightly liberalized, especially for Nazi Party members.
The Second Amendment has always been an important safeguard meant to ensure that the the government of United States never becomes a threat to the rights, the liberty, and the property of the American people. By examining the debates which occurred during framing of the Bill of Rights it is abundantly clear from the very beginning of the debate that the Second Amendment was all about granting the people the power to restrain the government if it proved necessary. Here is a quote from the debates House of Representatives, Amendments to the Constitution August 17, 1789 by Elbridge Gerry
What, sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty. Now, it must be evident, that, under this provision, together with their other powers, Congress could take such measures with respect to a militia, as to make a standing army necessary. Whenever Governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins. This was actually done by Great Britain at the commencement of the late revolution. They used every means in their power to prevent the establishment of an effective militia to the eastward.
It has been maintained by many revisionist historians that the militia mentioned in the Second Amendment was a formal military unit the same as the modern National Guard. George Mason put the kibosh to that mistruth during the Virginia Ratifying Convention in 1787
I ask who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people, except a few public officers.
He was echoed by Richard Henry Lee in Federal Farmer 18
To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them; nor does it follow from this, that all promiscuously must go into actual service on every occasion. The mind that aims at a select militia, must be influenced by a truly anti-republican principle; and when we see many men disposed to practice upon it, whenever they can prevail, no wonder true republicans are for carefully guarding against it. As a farther check, it may be proper to add, that the militia of any state shall not remain in the service of the union, beyond a given period, without the express consent of the state legislature.
The modern National Guard would most definitely be considered a select militia by Richard Henry Lee and he would label it anti-republican.