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There are places in the world where the obvious, open carry of firearms is a dangerous thing to do. This occurs where life becomes cheaper than the value of a modern firearm, legal firearms are hard to obtain, and the police are held in low esteem. I first heard of this in the early 1980’s in graduate school when an erudite colleague, Norman Whisler, showed me articles from India where officers were murdered for their service firearms on a fairly regular basis. The harder a society makes it to obtain modern firearms, the more police who openly carry are put at risk . . .

As the black market value of a firearm approaches and exceeds the average annual income, a line is crossed where targeting police for their arms becomes attractive enough to try. This is one reason that many countries with lower income levels restrict police from carrying arms off duty. Another is the tendency of the same police to “lose” their duty gun, making a tidy profit on the black market in the process.

The budding socialist utopia of Venezuela has reached this point. Legal handguns have been virtually outlawed for ordinary citizens. Ammunition is difficult to come by, if you can get it at all. People who aren’t associated with the government are only allowed to own .22 rifles or shotguns. And police officers are routinely murdered for their weapons.


Soaring crime in Caracas throughout 2014 has given it the unenviable ranking of second most violent city in the world, with a murder rate of 155 for every 100,000 inhabitants, according to Mexican NGO Security, Justice, and Peace. In the Venezuelan capital, not even the state’s security forces are safe: during the first 29 days of 2015, criminals murdered 13 of the city’s uniformed officers. Circumstances varied, but in the majority of cases, the perpetrators killed police to steal their firearms.

Another important factor is the destruction of any faith in the criminal justice system and the rule of law. This is the common denominator in virtually all societies with homicide rates over 20 per hundred thousand, including some urban centers in the United States.

In Venezuela, the faith in the criminal justice system wasn’t very high even before Hugo Chavez came to power. Since his ascendancy and now under his successor, Nicolas Maduro, it has has fallen through the floor.

With the reduction in the price of oil, it’s likely that spiraling Venezuelan crime rate will rise even further. Over half of government income in Venezuela is from the sale of oil, and world oil price levels have dropped by half. As large portions of the Venezuelan population have become dependent on government subsidies produced by high oil prices, severe disruptions seem likely.

Poverty alone doesn’t correlate to high crime rates. The Venezuelan government claims to have reduced poverty by half, while the murder rate has tripled. Some societies have low income levels along with low levels of crime. Create a lack of respect for the rule of law, though, and society becomes much more dangerous for everyone, including openly armed police.

©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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  1. While I’m sure officers that are murdered have their sidearm stolen as well, I’m unconvinced that such a motive is the direct one for the killing and not a bonus.

    • Have you ever been to a place in a foreign country where masses of people have no idea how they are going to provide food, much less clothing, for themselves and their family … because there are no resources, no jobs, and no business opportunities? Such a situation is understandably desperate. In that setting I can definitely see where a few people would kill a police officer for our equivalent of $30,000.

      Most people in our nation — probably 99.9% — have NO idea how good we have it here. At the very least, there are always jobs in retail sales and fast food restaurants which pay enough money to prevent starvation. That isn’t the case in much — perhaps most — of the world.

      • It’s amazing how good it can make a populace feel by racking up $18 trillion in debt and countless trillions more in unfunded liabilities.
        So far anyway…

      • I have, actually.

        If you have you would know that police are killed for lots of reasons in those places, and the strongest motive is seldom tied back to their equipment.

      • So like much of the US during the reign of St FD or R? I don’t recall reading of killings of popo for their sidearms. Perhaps has more to do with values/morality of the society?

  2. Well, when things get totally out of hand, the government will collapse, the military will overthrow the government, much blood will be shed, and a new dictator will be installed who will finally “cooperate” with his CIA handlers. Just like Chile.

  3. Nice post, Dean. You make some excellent points about the correlation between crime and a reasonable level of confidence in the rule of law and the justice system.

  4. Everybody voted for Chavez over and over, they liked that free stuff. Guess they’ll get to pay for that free stuff for a few decades, if they’re lucky. Anybody thinks our turn is not coming has his eyes closed.

  5. The easiest way to get rid of poverty is to make everyone be in poverty. Then those who were in poverty are now middle class! Profit, comrades!

  6. The South American cartels would love for the second amendment to be repealed. They would flood the market, just like they did with coke, just like they did with meth, and just like they are trying to do with heroin right now.

    • Thank you! You want to give the gangs a new or greatly enhance a revenue stream, ban guns here. The gangs and cartels will just set up production in Mexico and smuggle them over the boarder. Maybe that would get Obama to enforce the boarder, although he had no issue with a southward flow…..

  7. Police getting murdered for their guns is not just for 3rd world countries. 25 years ago, I was an USAF SP stationed in Europe. It was common for criminals to ambush police and military members to take their firearms. We were reminded about that danger quite often. It happens here too. As you may recall, the Boston bombers ambushed and killed a college public safety officer to take his sidearm. They were unsuccessful, though, for they could not figure out how the officers retention holster worked.

  8. Good post. Slowly as a society we are sinking. All our major institutions have shown themselves to be corrupt, politicians, churches, government (Feds, states, police, educators ( though I can’t blame teachers for poor performance, it’s our society)), doctors, hospitals, the judicial system, etc.
    When this corruption becomes widespread the society falls apart.
    Read about Argentina, Venezuela, Mexico and Europe. That’s where we are headed.
    We had it after WWII but both political parties, educators and our inclusive of everything and everybody has lowered us dramatically. All our wars didn’t help either.
    One can hope that it gets reversed but we are on the way to hell…….which is where our good intentions will take us.

  9. The phrase “the rule of law” is an excuse for treating people like cattle. We need the rule of justice and mercy — and real, empowered juries.

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