Brazil has some of the strictest gun laws in the world. It has one of the highest murder rates in the world. Some Brazilian legislators think they should respect the right of law abiding Brazilians to defend themselves.
Most of the people murdered in Brazil are murdered with illegally possessed guns. Restrictions on gun ownership in Brazil are so strict, there is a thriving black market in the construction and sale of illegal sub-machine guns and pistols. Submachine guns are one of the easiest of repeating firearms to construct with small shop technology. These illegal small shop guns show up all over the world where there are extreme restrictions on gun ownership.
With the failure of extreme gun restrictions in Brazil, a group of legislators have been elected on a platform of reforms. They are pushing to make it easier for law abiding Brazilians to possess firearms and to use them for self defense. They are called the “bullets, beef and Bible” caucus. From telesurtv.net:
Congressman Edson Moreira, who is part of the religiously conservative congress group, known by many as the “bullets, beef and Bible” sect, told NPR on Monday that he is an advocate of U.S. style gun laws that say if the “bad guys” have guns, the “good guys” should be allowed to have them as well to protect themselves.
“Brazil doesn’t have a gun problem. It has a problem of illegal guns in the hands of criminals, especially drug traffickers,” he said. “The idea is to return to the public the right to own a gun or not.”
“The U.S.A. has the perfect legislation in the Second Amendment, which guarantees the population the right to bear arms,” he added.
Reforms have been proposed ever since the gun controls were severely increased in 2003.
The currently proposed reforms in Brazil are fairly modest. Remove the ability of police to prevent any applicant from being able to purchase a gun by arbitrary dictat.
The reforms would lower the minimum age for gun ownership from 25 to 21.
The reforms would allow legal gun owners to protect themselves in their own home, and to be able to buy 100 cartridges a year.
When it seems possible that the reforms might be passed, the international authoritarian writers start heating up the Internet with the usual false arguments.
In an article in pri.org, Robert Muggah and Daniel Cerqueira make the usual claims, without any real evidence. From pri.org:
One out of 10 homicide victims around the world each year is a Brazilian. Most of the roughly 60,000 Brazilian citizens violently killed each year die from gunshot wounds. And the majority of the guns doing the killing were made in Brazil. The country is the fourth-largest firearms and ammunition manufacturer on the planet.
These facts — soaring gun deaths and gun production — are not coincidental.
Their statement that a majority of guns used to murder in Brazil are made in Brazil, is true. Small shop guns made in Brazil are made in Brazil. The authors do not differentiate between criminally made guns and state sanctioned industrially made guns.
Sweden, for example, has less strict gun controls than Brazil, and produces more official weaponry per person than Brazil does. But Sweden has a much, much lower murder rate, less than 2% of Brazil’s rate (1.1 per 100,000 vs 74 per 100,000). That may be changing with the importation of large numbers of hostile immigrants, but Sweden has far less homicide than Brazil. Switzerland also produces lots of guns, and has a homicide rate as low as Sweden. Gun controls in Switzerland are less strict than in many U.S. states. There is no link between industrial gun production and murder rates.
Anti-freedom writers do not like to talk about homemade, black market guns. The Small Arms Survey calls the practice “craft production”. From smallarmssurvey.org:
Several countries have long traditions of artisans producing rudimentary firearms. The practice is widespread in many countries in West Africa where blacksmiths produce a range of small arms including pistols and shotguns. The artisanal firearm industry is especially developed in Ghana, with some gunsmiths reportedly able to produce assault rifles. The Peshawar district in Pakistan is reportedly home to some 200 workshops producing a wide range of inexpensive small arms. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) produce copies of Italian semi-automatic pistols and US sub-machine guns.
They love to cite discredited studies that cherry pick results.
The Brazilian reformers have a difficult time ahead, with most of the authoritarians in the world working against them. When murders dropped a little, the statists said gun control was working, if ever so slightly. When murders went up, the statist writers claim it is because gun control, no matter how strict, is just not strict enough. When murder rates in the United States drop by half, while laws preventing people from carrying guns have been reformed, the statists stay silent or cherry pick individual states and brief time periods to discredit the overall evidence.
To the statists, freedom and responsibility are never the answer.
Brazil is just emerging from numerous scandals involving the ruling statist parties. It is one of the reasons that reformers have a chance to pass legislation. Will Brazil move toward responsibility and freedom, and away from ever increasing government control and irresponsibility? They have a shot, but most of the world is working against them.
Will more guns in private hands reduce the murder rate? Probably a little. But it will increase the belief in the rule of law. When a government trusts the people with weapons, it has started to earn some trust in return. When Brazilians believe the rule of law is mostly enforced, most of the the time, the murder rate will drop like a rock.