Mérida, March 7th 2012 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – The Venezuelan government has suspended gun imports and sales, initially for a period of one year. It is also encouraging citizens to register their guns.
The suspension began on 29 February, is nationwide, and includes a ban on marketing of weaponry as well.
Weapons shops must make an inventory of their stock and hand it over to the weapons and explosives section of the Armed Forces, who will hold on to it for the year. Fire arms sales and shops will be closed down from 1 June this year, although those selling other products, such as fishing gear, will be able to remain open to sell only those products.
The new measure does not apply to state-produced or imported munitions, or to weapons for the use of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces, police bodies, registered private security companies, and athletes who practice shooting sports.
Also, from the start of this month the government began a national process to regularise weapon possession, where those who have acquired arms legally but their documents are out of date or order can update them without any fines or punishments. Residents of Aragua, Carabobo, and the Capital District have until the 31 May to regularise their guns. After that no more new weapons permits will be granted for one year.
“We want to broaden and improve the national inventory of weapons and identify the number of legal ones,” said Pablo Fernandez, member of the presidential commission for arms control.
Fernandez also explained that in order to avoid corruption and police who “cooperate with criminals” by selling them ammunition, a laser code will be put on each bullet in order to identify it in the case of a crime.
He said the new measures aim to reduce violence.
Last year the government seized over 120,000 guns, which it then melted down to iron for use in public housing projects. According to official statistics, 94% of homicides in Venezuela in 2010 were caused by gun violence.