Monday, October 24, 2005

No gun ban in Brazil

Despite 36,000 shooting deaths last year, Brazil's voters have strongly rejected a proposed ban on guns Reuters reports. All areas of the country voted against the ban. Here's the vote breakdown by region (note: in the upside-down world of referendums, a yes vote was a vote against guns, and a no vote was a vote to keep them.)

Commentators have explained the vote by suggesting that Brazilians didn't trust the authorities to be able to disarm entreched mafias and drug gangs, and believed that a gun ban would leave them more exposed to violence. Indeed, one of the shortcomings of the proposal was that it would not have covered guns purchased before the ban went into effect, which in a way would have legitimized the vast cache of arms held by clandestine drug gangs.

The ban would have halted sales of guns and ammunition to the public. But since drug gangs often get their weapons through illegal conduits, including ties to the military, the ban probably wouldn't have affected their ability to get assault rifles and other heavy arms.

Brazil second in the world behind Venezuela in per capita gun deaths, with 22 for every 100,000 people.

So the spiraling violence will continue: indeed, on Saturday night, a young girl in Rio de Janeiro's favela Morro do Dende was wounded by a stray bullet as police clashed with drug traffickers.


Michael said...

Let me get this straight. You admit that the ban wouldn't have had any effect on the guns obtained and used by criminal gangs, but since the gun ban wasn’t passed you close with “So the spiraling violence will continue...” The violence would continue with or without the ban, since criminals are involved. You know, criminals. Those folks who don’t really pay much attention to things like laws and gun bans...

rn said...

Thanks, Michael: You're right about the feebleness of my conclusion. But I still favor the gun ban, because I don't think it's necessary or useful or socially desirable for ordinary citizens to own guns. Indeed, it probably increases insecurity.

While the gun ban might not have made it impossible for the drug gangs to get more guns, it would have severely resticted legal availability. Then the government could to take the necessary (and more difficult) second step of cracking down on the illegal channels.

Michael said...

Heaven forbid we allow private citizens to defend themselves against criminals or even their own governments. It's nice to see that most Brazilians agree with me that your position is, well, bunk.

Rambix said...

It's naive to think that banning legal sales of guns is going to do anything but give more power to criminals. History has taught us that disarming the public can lead to terrible consequences - witness Nazi Germany, or current day England. The solution is to crack down without mercy on the bad people (and this includes the corrupt politicians, such as those that populate many South American governments), give them meaningful prison terms, and eliminate the conditions in which they thrive. Then the good people won't need so many weapons.

rn said...

Rambix: exactly what is so bad about current day England? Also: Though illegal gun running exists, Kenya bans private ownership of guns, and I'd say it has kept Nairobi's murder rate from going through the roof. Robberies are common; gun violence isn't.

And Michael: The fact that the ban on gun ownership was defeated doesn't necessarily mean Brazilians agree with you. The situation there is clouded by the fact that the police are corrupt and are universally distrusted. Indeed, many people believe that the criminals are more honorable.