In what has to qualify as a dog-bites-man story, the authoritarian regime of Venezuela has banned private gun ownership http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-18288430. This is in advance of what should be, with any luck, the last election campaign for dictator Hugo Chavez, who is terminally ill with cancer.
Venezuela has a stupendous murder rate of 49 per 100,000 population, which is almost 10 times the U.S. rate., and well ahead of other dangerous south-of-the-border spots like Mexico (18) and Colombia (33). The murder rate has vastly increased since Chavez took power in 1999, thanks to his politicization of the police and judiciary and his arming of political allies.
Civilian disarmament, of course, will mean Chavez’ legions will retain the upper hand against any opponents after his death, perpetuating, he hopes, his “Bolivarian revolution.” The fruits of that revolution have, of course, mainly been association with Cuba, Iran and Russia, the squandering of vast oil wealth, repression and violent crime. In that context, a gun ban was about as surprising as the sparks flying upward.