Mérida, 25th May 2012 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – From 1 June the commercial sale of firearms and ammunition will be banned in Venezuela, confirmed Venezuelan Justice and Interior Relations minister Tareck El Aissami yesterday.
Since the measure was first passed on 29 February over 805,000 rounds of ammunition have been recovered by Venezuelan authorities as part of an auditing process of gun stores. These are now held by the Venezuelan Anonymous Company of Military Industries (Cavim), which manufactures ammunition for state security bodies.
The announcement was part of the first annual presentation by the Presidential Commission for Disarmament and Control of Arms and Ammunition, created in May 2011 to design and implement public policies aimed at gun control and disarmament in Venezuela.
As part of policies aimed at regulating the use of firearms among the civilian population, El Aissami also announced that requests for permits to carry arms will be made through the Justice Ministry and that on 1 June the period for registering arms and renewing permits will close.
In Venezuela carrying a firearm is legal with a permit; however the commission has previously stated that the government’s citizen security policies are aimed at the eventual disarmament of the civilian population.
Meanwhile police bodies will be required to request and buy arms directly from the Justice Ministry. Ammunition supplied to police bodies will have special identification marking from the Cavim factory.
Other measures spearheaded by the Commission for Disarmament this year include a publicity campaign to raise awareness on the “cultural problem” of violent crime and promote values of peace. 78% of homicides in Venezuela are linked to the use of firearms.
The justice minister reported that in designing these policies, over the past year more than 20,000 citizens had participated in the Commission’s consultation process, including 6,056 people attending workshops throughout the country.
Of those who participated in the consultation, 84.3% were in favour of banning the carrying of arms, while 79.8% supported ending the sale of arms and ammunition.
El Aissami responded to criticisms that the consultation process had only spoken with those who don’t possess firearms. “We are consulting the Venezuelan shooting federation, ranching sectors, [firearms] traders, the Armed Forces, police bodies, civil society, organised communities and special groups,” he said.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced on Tuesday that the government’s anti-crime program, the Full Life mission, will be launched in June. The program aims to bring together all the government’s citizen security policies into a holistic approach toward tackling violent crime and transforming the judicial and prison systems.