Gun politics in Brazil

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Because of gun politics in Brazil, all firearms are required to be registered with the state; the minimum age for ownership is 25[1] and although it is legal to carry a gun outside a residence, extremely severe restrictions were made by the federal government since 2002 making it virtually impossible to obtain a carry permit.[2] To legally own a gun, the owner must pay a tax every three years to register the gun, currently at BRL R$85[3] and registration can be done via the Internet or in person with the Federal Police.[4] Until the end of the 2008, unregistered guns could be legalized for free.[5]

The total number of firearms in Brazil is thought to be around 17 million[2] with 9 million of those being unregistered.[1] Some 39,000 people died in 2003 due to gun-related injuries nationwide.[2] In 2004, the number was 36,000.[1] Brazil has the second largest arms industry in the Western Hemisphere.[6] Approximately 80 percent of the weapons manufactured in Brazil are exported, mostly to neighboring countries; many of these weapons are then smuggled back into Brazil.[6] Some firearms in Brazil come from police and military arsenals, having either been "stolen or sold by corrupt soldiers and officers."[6]

The majority of Brazilian population, in 2005, voted against banning the sale of guns and ammunition to civilians in a referendum. Voting was compulsory for people between the ages of 18 and 70. The belief of a fundamental natural human right to self-defense, low efficacy of police, high levels of use of illegal weapons in crimes in contrast to a very rare usage of legal weapons, and advocacy by Non Governmental Organizations (N.G.O.) such as the NRA are some of the factors that may have influenced 65% of Brazilian people to decide against the ban. The gun ban proposal received mixed support in the press, while celebrities were generally in favor, and drew the attention of international NGOs such as the NRA and the IANSA who financed Brazilian anti-ban lobbying groups and right-wing press, most importantly Veja the Brazilian news magazine (indeed weekly publication of any kind) with the largest paid circulation in the country. Other media, like the powerful Globo group (owners of Brazil's largest TV network Rede Globo) and some quality broadsheets like Folha de São Paulo took a more nuanced stance tending towards the neutral. The referendum was the first time the US-based NRA involved itself prominently in pushing its pro-gun rights agenda in a major country and was successful in influencing the outcome of a national referendum.[2]

2005 Referendum concerning the prohibition of the sale of firearms and ammunition[edit]

In 2005, a referendum was held in Brazil in an attempt to forbid the sale of firearms and ammunition nationwide. According to the Brazilian constitution, every citizen has the right to self-defense and the pro-gun campaigners focused their arguments around this constitutional right, as well as making economic arguments.[citation needed]

A decisive argument made by the pro-gun campaigners was to question the morality of the government removing a right from its citizens, resulting in a strong feeling among voters that no rights should ever be allowed to be taken away by the government.[7] Also, there were debates about the significant cultural status of gun ownership in the southern states of the country.

Another major argument used by the pro-gun ownership campaigners was the fact that the absolute majority of the gun crimes in Brazil were committed with unregistered and illegal guns, specially high caliber guns, that were already forbidden in Brazil and due to that, it would be of no use to forbid law-abiding citizens to own legal registered guns in accordance to the law. This argument was strongly reinforced by the fact that the regions where gun ownership is widespread were the ones with the smallest number of gun-related deaths. In the South region where there is the highest number of legal guns per citizen only 59% of all murders were caused by firearms in contrast to 70% in the Northeast where there is the lowest number of legal firearms per citizen.[8]

The anti-gun proponents argued that guns are dangerous for society and that their only reason to exist is to harm others.

The anti-gun campaign received widespread support from several famous actors, musicians and other Brazilian celebrities and a noticeable support from the nation's main TV station, Rede Globo.

The result of the referendum ended with a victory of those against the gun-ban, with over 63% of the voters opposed.[9] Although the Brazilian Government, the Catholic Church, and the United Nations, argued in favor of a gun ban, it was argued successfully that guns are needed for personal security.[1]

International support[edit]

The IANSA member groups Instituto Sou da Paz and Viva Rio[10] campaigned for a complete ban on civilian gun sales in Brazil, in support of the referendum.[11] A week before the vote, IANSA, an international gun control organization coordinated an international day of support for the Brazilian ban, with demonstrations taking place in Britain, Italy, South Africa, and other countries. IANSA urged support of the ban to "reinforce the movement in favor of gun control in other Latin American countries riddled with armed violence, and back the efforts to control private gun ownership at [an] international level."[12]

The ban also had the backing of the federal government (which wanted a government monopoly on gun possession), sections of the Brazilian Roman Catholic Church, and Veja news magazine.[12] The anti-gun lobby received vast support and free coverage from the press, including Rede Globo, Brazil«s largest TV network despite its parent company fairly neutral stance which eventually was reflected. By that time most Protestant-evangelical news organizations had taken a clearly anti-ban stance (including the Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus-owned Rede Record, Globo's main competitor at the time.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Brazilians reject gun sales ban". BBCNEWS. October 24, 2005. Retrieved 2008-06-17. 
  2. ^ a b c d Hearn, Kelly (October 5, 2005). "The NRA Takes on Gun Control – in Brazil". Alternet. Retrieved 2008-06-17. 
  3. ^ Etapas para compra de uma arma de fogo
  4. ^ Registro de armas de fogo pode ser feito via Web
  5. ^ Termina prazo para legalizar armas sem taxas
  6. ^ a b c Rohter, Larry (October 20, 2005). "Gun-Happy Brazil Hotly Debates a Nationwide Ban". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  7. ^ http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/folha/cotidiano/ult95u114537.shtml
  8. ^ Urbim, Emiliano (2008). "Mapa da morte", Superinteressante, Nº 262, Pp 30 and 31.
  9. ^ Associated Press (October 23, 2005). "Brazilians Block Gun Ban". Fox News. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  10. ^ "IANSA: Members: South America". IANSA. 2008-06-18. 
  11. ^ "The Campaign for the Brazilian Referendum Starts Today" (pdf). IANSA. 2005-08-05. 
  12. ^ a b Morton, David (2006-07-05). "Gunning For the World". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 2008-07-23. 

External links[edit]

Gun control advocacy groups:

Gun rights advocacy groups: