40 thoughts on “Dystopia Unarmed

  1. Horse: Hey Cart! What are you doing over there? Aren’t you supposed to be behind me?
    Cart: Eh, no. I like it better here.

    Quico: “Why? It’s simple. In England, nobody has a gun.”

    Because during a riot, guns are the most likely cause of death? Should I tell you how many people have died during riots inside football stadiums in England?

    The “nobody has a gun” part, however, is important once you mention that the police don’t have guns either. But somehow I don’t think you’ll be advocating that kind of gun control, will you?

    If there have been only five deaths it’s not because England has gun control laws, but because the English are the kind of people who abhor guns to the point even their own police won’t have anything to do with them.


    • Sorry, but that makes no sense. That England is populated by more than its fair share of amoral low-lifes was sufficiently demonstrated this week. If you’re arguing that it’s the decency and civic-spiritedness of the thugs looting electronics shops that kept violence (mostly) non-deadly, I think you’re making an argument that very nearly parodies itself.

      Neither English thugs nor English coppers are either better or worse than thugs or cops anywhere else…they just don’t have an easy way of killing each other, that’s all.


    • Your point is flawed. Firstly, you ignore the fact that the spark for unrest (leading to opportunistic looting) was that a person called Mark Duggan was shot and killed by police. Secondly, in Northern Ireland every police officer carries a gun, faces routine public disturbances and yet the death rate is not hugely different than England’s.

      Please tell us how many people have died in riots in English football stadiums? My answer is one – a 14 year old boy killed when a wall collapsed at Birmingham City in 1985. More English football fans have been killed by rioting abroad than at home.


      • I should have written: More English fans have been killed by foreign fans attacking them abroad than by their own handiwork at home.


    • Four days of rioting in seven cities. Hundreds of shops looted. Mass disorder on a scale unseen in 30 years.

      Five dead.

      There’s your problem right there, not enough dead.

      Bad topic is bad. This is guaranteed to annoy everyone somehow.


  2. I don’t understand what you’re trying to get at. What do guns have to do with rioting?
    Three people were killed by a hit and run driver an other by blunt instrument attack and the fifth by targeted mob violence.
    Its very rare, anywhere, that firearms are used in mob violence or mob expression, except in Venezuela where the PSUV faction seems to have a monopoly in this kind of force.
    In the UK it is true that virtually all persons are denied the ownership of firearms, but usually this is a very civil society where self protection by means of a firearm is totally unnecessary.
    While here If I forget to lock my door at night it no big deal. In Venezuela I would probably be robbed the first night night I forgot to lock up.
    I live three months of the year in the UK, one month in the EEUU and the remainder of the year in Venezuela. (I am in the UK at this moment).
    Why? I like the HEAT!

    Aside: Typical chemo therapy is usually applied every three or four weeks for five or six sessions. Once the initial front line chemos’ have been administrated, they become useless, subsequent second line chemos’ are very much like a Hail Mary pass.


  3. I am dubious as to the correlation.

    Brazil has strict gun control laws but a high murder rate.

    The US allows open legal gun ownership, but you have large scale riots like Seattle in 99 with no deaths. I think the number of deaths is more reflective of the other factors… the ease of getting illegal guns is probably a lot more influential than laws making legal gun ownership more difficult. Then again this might be your point, but in American discourse “gun control” is usually a euphemism for making guns illegal.

    Either way, cutting down on criminal ownership of guns will be probably nearly impossible in Venezuela. In so far as it is possible Brazil or South Africa provides a better predictive model than England for Venezuela. Also in such a violent society I would think it makes sense to allow law abiding citizens with no criminal record to arm themselves advisable but thats just my opinion (again not sure if you mean gun control for criminals, or gun control for all). laws but a high murder rate.

    The US allows open legal gun ownership, but you have large scale riots like Seattle in 99 with no deaths. I think the number of deaths is more reflective of the other factors… the ease of getting illegal guns is probably a lot more influential than laws making legal gun ownership more difficult. Then again this might be your point, but in American discourse “gun control” is usually a euphemism for making guns illegal.

    Either way, cutting down on criminal ownership of guns will be probably nearly impossible in Venezuela. In so far as it is possible Brazil or South Africa provides a better predictive model than England for Venezuela. Also in such a violent society I would think it makes sense to allow law abiding citizens with no criminal record to arm themselves advisable but thats just my opinion (again not sure if you mean gun control for criminals, or gun control for all).


  4. We are going to be disagreeing on this one FT, as usual…

    Five dead indeed. A proof that gun control works?* Hardly. Rather, I’d say it is the result of centuries of rule of law, of a very deep rooted knowledge, in all social strata, that if you carry out acts against other persons, or property, the law will catch up with you, and YOU WILL PAY THE CONSEQUENCES. That is what deters thugs and criminals alike operating in the UK to not engage in pran-like behaviour, not the lack of guns, which they can easily get in the black market.

    * (FYI the Met Police have many, many guns, and there has been intense debate as to whether coppers should be allowed to use rubber bullets in rioting/looting situations. This is a society that works on the premise of let’s reason first and then shoot, only if we have to, only if things get out of hand).


    • Well, things are not that simple.
      It is true the cops do have guns in Britain (let’s remember the Brazilian bloke they shot dead in the tube) and it is true most people know they will eventually be caught up, but it is also a fact most people simply can’t get guns illegally.
      I think it is a pretty similar situation in contintal Europe. Actually, here I could buy quite some guns, but I have to register them and a lot is registered for any citizen anyway.
      The cops know where ALMOST everyone lives.
      And there is this about registration: Venezuelans have no reliable registers of anything.
      Guns flow almost like in Somalia – but not only guns. Millions of people live in places for which there are no map, no registers of who lives where.
      Try to get your way around in some of the slums in Miguel Peña or around Los Guayos.
      Try to carry out an investigation in complete areas where


  5. Quico is so right. Judging by the results of the recent riots, British laws and enforcement of those laws are a model for the rest of the world to emulate.

    Moreover, the Venezuelan tendency to obey the law shows that adopting British law to Venezuela would be a resounding success.


    • Boludo Tejano,

      Apparently the London police don’t think so:

      “Cameron told lawmakers that he would look to cities like Boston for inspiration, and mentioned former Los Angeles, New York and Boston Police Chief William Bratton as a person who could help offer advice”

      We have family in England who say they do not feel protected by the police.The fact that those kids came away with the idea that they can basically do as they please, is not what I would call a success.


      • “Cameron” is not an English term for “police”, Firepigette. Cameron (in full: “David Cameron”) is the current prime minister of the UK. He has his opinions, like you and anyone else.


    • Of the thus far 5 “thumbs down” responses, I wonder how many were given for my writing
      1) A sincere comment, or how many were given for my writing
      2) A sarcastic comment


  6. I’ve never owned a gun, and I wouldn’t like to be in a situation where I wanted to have one in my hands, but I’m opposed to gun control laws. Gun control just makes society more vulnerable to criminals, who would flip the finger to ANY law and know that it is less likely that a victim will have a gun on him and fire back.

    That said, I’m not really surprised that Quico defends this nonsense.


  7. Ricardo, what do you mean by “gun control law” here? It seems to me people are talking about different things when they use that term.

    I am not sure about Britain’s laws, but it seems to me they are rather similar to the ones we have in most of Western Europe. It is not true people cannot own guns here. You can own (some of) them, you need to have a license and to have a license you need to show your record and your address.

    I am for people to register at a state/local government office any time they change their address. We must know who lives where in every street, in every barrio.

    In Venezuela there is no accountability for anything:
    zillions of guns disappear from police, from the military, a lot of guns are constantly stolen from private owners (I know quite a few) and they do not report the theft of those guns. We have no idea where several million people actually live.

    I believe if you have a gun, you have to apply for a new permit every X years, and to do that you need to present your gun at the local police plus the required papers.


  8. “Gun Control” is a joke in Venezuela. We have a complete prohibition of automatic weapons. A prohibition to have arms more powerful than the Army’s that is interpreted to say that certain caliber weapons cannot be carried, or even semiautomatic. There’s a virtual prohibition for the common citizen to possess a gun, it simply is too expensive, requires knowing someone and hiring a “gestor”.

    The results speak for themselves.

    A total gun prohibition will make it that only outlaws have guns. Including thoroughly decent persons who will become outlaws by the signature of one stupid document containing a supremely stupid law.

    Besides, count me in staunch opposition to any gun permit law that is not “Shall Issue”, which means “I have proven that I am not mad or a criminal, how long before I come pick my permit?, ta ta!” . In most parts of the world “May Issue”, left to the discretion of some official, means “I will only issue permits to people I like or to whom I cannot deny anything coz they are powerful and can ruin my day”. In Venezuela anyone who coughs up enough dosh is a pal…


    • I ask you: define what gun control means to you.
      People should be forced by law to show every so many years they have their gun with them. If they can’t, they have to explain why they did not report that to the police.
      Loroferoz, if you cannot abide by such a simple rule, perhaps you should consider becoming the Unabomber.
      People are acting in more than sloppy ways with their guns and when they lose them or let someone use them against someone else, it is too late.
      An officer should give you the gun right if you aren’t a convicted criminal, if you haven’t a record of “losing” guns and not reporting such lost and if a psychologist has certified you are not round the bend.

      Also: an external entity should verify that police forces and military forces don’t “lose” their weapons. Whatever you do, you should be able to account for what you have done with your weapons. It is not a human right to have weapons, at least not outside the USA and Somalia. It’s not like what Charles Heston said, that “guns don’t kill people, apes with guns kill people”.
      El que daba debe, nada teme.


      • Why the sharp retort? Did I offend anyone?

        Just the facts. We Venezuelans have some of the toughest “Gun Control” on Earth in paper. So tough that it should amount to a virtual prohibition to own guns. “Should” and “in paper” are the operative words here.

        To me control means control like duly registered. Like a motor vehicle you drive and yourself as a driver. No ideological hysterics, no accusations that since you own one, you plan on drowning the Mauritius Islands by global warming, drive drunk and do a hit-and-run, fill it with explosives and set it as a car bomb, etc… You have responsibility for things done with your property, and yes, it is advisable therefore to duly register whether it’s stolen, sold or destroyed. Of course most “gun control” is actually prohibition of lawful possession or a close facsimile thereof because lawful possession is nearly impossible.

        I never said there was a human right involved. Only that outcome of applications should not be left to discretion, but should depend on compliance with reasonable standards. Yes! just like the driver’s license in any reasonable nation. It’s called rule of law wherever hysteria is not involved.

        Public force guns are an entirely different matter. These are public property.

        And el que no la “debe no la teme” is old hat in this age of runaway bureaucracy and changing regulations. On any matter, if you pile on enough requirements and rules over time, they can make anyone “debe” and then “teme”, or almost anyone. Enough money and influence, or a good lawyer usually solve matters.


    • I agree loro. I never had any problem obtaining permits for guns, even for “weapons of war”, which is how they qualified my Glock 9mm handgun. As you said, all you need is a gestor and you are good to go. Hell, I got a carry permit for a 22 caliber rifle (as opposed to a homestead permit, which is all you are supposed to be able to get for it).

      I broke my “no gestor” rule for this because I considered it important enough to do so.

      All that gun control does is make it so that outlaws are armed, and it creates a lucrative business for those who would supply them.

      What is needed in Venezuela is gun education, not outlawing guns. What’s needed in Venezuela are gun laws that ensure that you can have access to guns if you do not have a criminal record, pass a psychological test and pass a proficiency test.

      Britons can expect to go to jail and pay dearly for illegally having a gun, Venezuelans can expect to bribe the authorities to stay out of jail if caught illegally carrying a gun.


      • Roberto

        Those are the laws and “control” I was referring to. As I said: people can get a lot of guns here. I don’t know how many of what type, but enough to kill friend and foe. There are people running amok and killing people in Germany, in Britain, etc as well and then one finds out about them: most got the stuff legally. But all in all: fewer people have guns and there is a more or less good record not just on where those guns are but where everybody lives

        Aparently Loroferoz wants no law at all.

        I think Loroferoz’s ideal state was Somalia before Al Shabat came in.

        Loroferoz, sorry if I hurt your feelings, but could you clarify? Is Somalia what you have in mind? There everyone is up to himself, government is kept to a minimum.


        • I made the analogy to motor vehicle driving licenses and registration at least three times.

          Don’t bait me, please. It does not do you credit.

          That I know, motor vehicle ownership and driving on public roads is not considered a fundamental human right in most of the World. But people register (sell/buy) their vehicles and get their licenses all right to exercise other, related rights fully, like travel and private property. Without hysteria, passing tests that might be of some difficulty but not biased.

          Rule of law means that the content and interpretation of the law, as well as its application according to ascertained intent are, whenever possible, not left to arbitrary decision or ideological bias but to reasoned argument.


    • Good that you point this out. Happy trigger fingers… shooting people dead for no justfiable reason at all… the Metropolitan Police Force of London. And then getting away with it. A pat on the hand.


      • What? I shoot dead, or even try to shoot near the profile of anyone who has not pulled a weapon on me, and I get hard jail time. Fair enough.

        Police guns are there for self defense and for defense of others. Or so we thought. Pulling them on anyone not attacking them (or anyone else) with lethal force is actually aggression. And in my opinion a crime. Then there’s shooting an ordinary citizen like a dog… Metropolitan Police Force officers literally jumping on, then executing ordinary persons on no warning, like Jean Charles de Menezez, have not done any jail time to my knowledge.


  9. I doubt that not allowing citizens their right to protect themselves is the answer. Or requiring people to show up at a police station and register their privately owned property will help, after all, as Kepler correctly points out above, their are no real maps of Venezuelan cities and it’s a big problem. The police couldn’t care less than to go searching for “Juan in the yellow house across the street from the park”, and inquire whether or not he’s keeping his ammunition locked up.
    And, rarely do criminals bother to register their guns anyway.
    People should have the right to ownership of guns, and only lose it if they’ve convicted of criminal behavior. It is a “human right” to be able to protect yourself.

    No one has mentioned the swiss yet, all heads of the household have a rifle and all that…


    • Marc,
      The official registry is not for the thugs. If you have the information o where most people are, you can use that to pinpoint where some criminals May NOT be hiding. It’s not for sure, but information on population distribution can always be used to manage security better – if correctly used, of course.

      Besides: one of the sources for guns are those guns that get stolen. I know several Venezuelans who have lost their weapons because of the way they were hiding them. Thieves came in, overpowered them and got away with those weapons. If someone keeps “losing” weapons, he may simply be a guns provider (whether it’s a normal citizen or a policeman). If he lost one once, at least the police should know as much as possible about where, when, etc. Of course, you need a police force where some brains actually work and know how to process all this d aa

      We must keep as best as possible track of the legal weapons.
      We must keep track of where people live in order to use this information to limit the places where we need to look for people who are hiding. A thief can hide in my house or yours, but it is less likely.
      As for the Swiss: you forget to mention their country is located in the middle of Europe. Violent crime is no higher around Switzerland.
      The Swiss do have to present their weapons every so often to prove they keep them in good condition. And: not all of them have weapons.


  10. I once owned a shotgun in Venezuela. It was strictly legal and kept for protection in a house on a plot of land, deep in the countryside, far from the madding crowd. One Saturday, about 1 am, we awoke to the disturbance created by our furiously barking dogs, alerting us that something was up. Rushing outside, we caught sight of a couple of shadowy figures trying to hide in a thicket close by and shouted at them to leave at once, to which their response was gunfire. I fetched the shotgun and fired twice into the air, to which they fled in a hurry. We thought the incident was over, but 2 hours later the house was raided by an inordinate number of police. The whole house was overturned and *everything* of value not nailed down to the floor was stolen, including my shotgun, leaving some very disagreeable legal repercussions that lasted for years after that. It appears our visitors were off duty policemen, seeking to supplement their incomes … which in the end, they did, although it was probably less profitable to split it that many more ways. I never felt like buying a replacement shotgun.


    • Anon, I’m so sorry to say this, but, unfortunately, this seems to be the “norm” in many Latin American countries. I can’t speak for Venezuela, but I know that in Nicaragua, this type of thing happens all the time! The police force, whether local or national, is NOT paid enough, nor are informed enough as to what they are supposed to be and represent. After all, they are only human beings, right? If they were to have undergone the necessary training, AND be paid an adequate salary, this wouldn’t be happening.


  11. I don’t know if I agree with Quico or not. I haven’t made up my mind but I think Quico’s argument foes as follows. Suppose that initially we have a stable situation (i.e., no riots and looting) where people do have guns (police and regular people which includes potential looters, thugs as well as shopkeepers, etc.). Now think of a situation that would trigger riots and looting in a society where regular people do not have guns. The question is whether this same situation would also cause riots in a country with guns like the one we assumed at the beginning. In this scenario would-be looters are going to think a bit longer before actually going out and looting. Why? Because It’s now potentially way more costly to loot. This thugs might find an armed and ready-to-shoot shop keeper that might kill them. That seems a pretty high price to pay for a plasma TV. This possibility might discourage the most risk-averse thugs. If the mass of people that stay at home and behave well is large enough, there would not be riots and looting at all.


  12. hold on a second, let me make a simple question before you keep on argueing about gun control.

    What do you need a weapon for?


    • What do you need a car for? What do you need a bicycle for? What do you need a house for? What do you need chemicals for? What do you need fertilizer for? Do we assume you need a car for running pedestrians over or for drive-by shootings? Do we assume you need a house as a hideout for criminals, or to prepare bombs? Do we assume you need fertilizer because you plan to set a bomb? Nope, sir, you are a peaceful individual. We don’t assume these things offhand about you, it’s even insulting. The onus of proof is in whoever makes these outrageous assumptions, if you are not some violent and dangerous criminal and you are not demonstrably planning something horrible.

      What do you need a weapon for? Lawful purposes of a peaceful individual. Maybe for hunting, maybe for self-defense. Maybe for target shooting.


      • loroferoz,

        A firearm is a not like other tools.

        It provides no control for the amount of power, other than by choosing the ammo, and it’s only means of achieving its purpose is via destruction.

        The amount of power they provide together with their simplicity of use is what makes them such playing field levelers, whereby a 13 yearold 90 pound weakling becomes a threat to a trained 200 pound police officer.

        For these reasons you will see all classical, philosophical martial arts shy away from all firearm weapons. You can’t really “be one” with an explosion when the basis of teaching is restraint to minimize hurt and damage by minimizing use of force.

        I’m not saying there are no reasons for firearms; I’m just pointing out that your analogies don’t quite fall in the same bucket. Even further, handguns, and automatic weapons deserve their own respective buckets different than the ones for hunting or sporting rifles.


    • I do not “need” guns, but I like to shoot them at targets. Occasionally I used guns to cut down on the wild pig population at my uncles farm in El Sombrero. Without shooting those wild pigs, the corn crop would have had unacceptable losses of over 25% of the crop. Given that the fine residents of El Sombrero routinely made off with another 40% of the crop without going to jail (despite being found in flagrante delicto), whatever we could keep from the pigs was what was sold.

      Did you ever have a flat tire in the middle of the night on a country road in Venezuela? let me tell you, a Glock 9mm all of a sudden becomes your very best friend.


  13. Francisco makes an excellent point. With lots of guns around there not only would have been many more killed and injured, but the anger, violence and resentment would be compounded and extended.



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