Gun politics in Brazil

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In Brazil, all firearms are required to be registered with the minimum age for gun ownership being 25.[1] It is illegal to carry a gun outside a residence, and a special permit is granted to certain groups, such as law enforcement officers.[2] To legally own a gun, an owner must hold a gun license, which costs BRL R$1000,[2] and the owner must pay a fee every three years to register the gun, currently at BRL R$85.[3] Registration can be done online or in person with the Federal Police.[4] Until 2008, unregistered guns could be legalized for free.[5]

It is estimated that there are around 17 million firearms in Brazil,[6] 9 million of which are unregistered.[1] Some 39,000 people died in 2003 from gun-related injuries nationwide.[6] In 2004, the number was 36,000.[1] Brazil has the second largest arms industry in the Western Hemisphere.[7] Approximately 80% of the weapons manufactured in Brazil are exported, mostly to neighboring countries; many of these weapons are then smuggled back into Brazil.[7] Some firearms in Brazil come from police and military arsenals, having either been "stolen or sold by corrupt soldiers and officers."[7]

In 2005, a majority of Brazil's population 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, are some of the factors that may have influenced 65% of Brazilian people to vote against the ban proposal. The gun ban proposal received broad support in the press, while celebrities were generally in favor of it, only Brazil's anti-ban social 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 newspapers of record like Folha de S.Paulo advocated clearly pro gun ban. The Federal Government was a self-declared pro gun ban power [1]. The referendum was the first time the US-based NRA involved itself prominently in helping to maintain gun rights in a major country and was successful in influencing the outcome of a national referendum.[6]

However, Brazilian Department of Justice (Ministério da Justiça), at the time it performs each individual's mandatory background check (what is made prior every gun acquisition, and every three years after it's acquired, whats allows gun confiscation), have been forbidding almost every citizens to buy guns [2][3], based on the Executive Order # 5.123, of 07/01/2004 (Decreto n.º 5.123, de 1º de julho de 2004)[4], that allows Brazilian FBI (Polícia Federal) to analyze the reasons that motivate a gun acquisition and the will of keeping an acquired gun, in which it's not considered a valid argument "self defense" because, according to them, there are allegedly sufficient and efficient public polices that are in charge of nationwide security, among other reasons of this kind of denial. [5]

Thus, disarmament is real in fact in Brazil [6], as it's also real massive gun confiscations [7], notwithstanding it's massive refusal by Brazilian people (at the referendum of 2005) and even though it is considered one of the real causes of the rise in 20% of gun usage rates in homicides in the country, in its nine years of existence (in 2003, people with guns killed 36.115 of the total 60.121 homicides, about 60%, while in 2012, 40.077 homicides of the total 50.108 were made buy the usage of a gun, about 80%). [8]

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

In 2005, a referendum was held in Brazil proposing the ban on 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 on 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.[8] 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.[9]

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.[10] 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[11] campaigned for a complete ban on civilian gun sales in Brazil, in support of the referendum.[12] 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."[13]

The ban had the backing of the federal government and sections of the Brazilian Roman Catholic Church.[13] 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]


  1. ^ a b c d "Brazilians reject gun sales ban". BBCNEWS. October 24, 2005. Retrieved 2008-06-17. 
  2. ^ a b "LEI No 10.826, DE 22 DE DEZEMBRO DE 2003". December 22, 2003. Retrieved 2015-05-09. 
  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 Hearn, Kelly (October 5, 2005). "The NRA Takes on Gun Control – in Brazil". Alternet. Retrieved 2008-06-17. 
  7. ^ a b c Rohter, Larry (October 20, 2005). "Gun-Happy Brazil Hotly Debates a Nationwide Ban". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ Urbim, Emiliano (2008). "Mapa da morte", Superinteressante, Nº 262, Pp 30 and 31.
  10. ^ Associated Press (October 23, 2005). "Brazilians Block Gun Ban". Fox News. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  11. ^ "IANSA: Members: South America". IANSA. 2008-06-18. 
  12. ^ "The Campaign for the Brazilian Referendum Starts Today" (pdf). IANSA. 2005-08-05. 
  13. ^ 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: