The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is an entirely outmoded document! Useful at one time, It’s now an excuse for malcontents and fools to obtain weapons they invariably misuse. That, at least, is what a large segment of our political establishment would have you believe. Are they right?
Into the debate comes the report of one Javier Vanegas. Mr. Vanegas, age 28, is a Venezuelan refugee living in Ecuador. He relates how his country of Venezuela was destroyed in “six short years”. It began, he tells us, when then President Hugo Chavez, taking a cue from Castro’s Cuba, decided to confiscate all civilian guns in 2012. An amnesty was declared, after which anyone caught with a firearm could spend up to twenty years behind bars. Despite this threat, only thirty seven guns were turned in. Nearly 12,500 had to be seized by force. When Chavez died, the policy of firearm confiscation was continued by his successor, President Nicolas Maduro. When members of the pro-democracy movement publicly protested the gun grab, over 200 of them were killed. When the police opened fire, all they could do was to throw stones. Predictably, Venezuela morphed into a complete dictatorship forcing over three million of its citizens to flee the country.
How did such a tragedy come about? Mr. Vanegas tells us the gun confiscation bill was originally sold to the Venezuelan National Assembly
as a crime prevention bill. Hmmm, why does that sound familiar?
Once the law was enacted, the murder rate really went down in Venezuela, right? No, wrong! In 2015 the number of murders in Venezuela reached 28,000, the worlds highest. For 2018, the homicide rate was 56.33 per 100,000. Again, a record setter, far exceeding the world’s average of 6.02 per 100,000. According to Mr. Vanegas, the only people who have guns in Venezuela now, besides the police, are street gangs preying on the disarmed citizenry. Why am I not surprised?
Back here in the U.S. of A., Second Amendment defenders like myself are increasing confronted with this question: “What if one of the high school kids killed by a miscreant had been your grandchild?” My answer, truthfully, is that I’d be devastated. However, that would still not change the grim arithmetic that repeatedly confirms that many more innocent civilians would lose their lives if guns were entirely banned.
For physicians, the history of medicine presents us with many grim tradeoffs. It wasn’t so long ago when removing a gangrenous limb was almost as dangerous as leaving it in place. With early immunotherapy, you could die from a toxin or take your chances with horse serum. Certain forms of cancer chemotherapy are almost as dangerous as the tumors themselves.
In all such cases, the profession has wisely chosen to go with the most favorable odds no matter narrowly they might be drawn. And that’s what we must do with respect to civilian gun ownership.
Why is this the right approach? Here, I’ll let Javier Venegas have the last word:
“Guns would have served as a vital pillar to remaining a free people, or at least [to be]able to put up a fight. The government security forces, at the beginning of this debacle, knew they had no real opposition to their force. Once things were this bad, it was a clear declaration of war against an unarmed population”.
Gun confiscators of America, what is it you don’t understand?
—Wallace Schwam, MD is a retired internist with interests in geriatrics and pharmacology who trained at Duke University. He rated expert in marksmanship in the Army and continues to enjoy hunting and tactical training with handgun, rifle and shotgun.