We Really Must Do Something About America's Gun Culture

South America’s gun culture, that is, and in particular: Brazil’s, where — oddly enough! — despite restrictive gun laws… oh well, you know the rest:


Firearms are responsible for 116 deaths every day in Brazil, according to a new study — a rate of nearly five people every hour. The Map of Violence 2015, which UNESCO published this week in partnership with the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences and the Brazilian government, calculated that gun violence ended a staggering 42,416 lives in 2012 alone, the most recent year with comprehensive data.

The national mortality rate of 21.9 gun-related fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants — of which nearly 95 percent are homicides, while the balance includes suicides, accidents, and unexplained cases — is the second highest ever recorded in the annual study’s 35-year history.

Nearly 60 percent of the victims were young people aged between 15 and 29 years of age. Black individuals were found to be 142 percent more likely to be shot and killed than those who are white. The northeastern state of Alagoas — home to Maceió, Brazil’s murder capital — topped the ranking, with 55 firearm-related deaths per 100,000 people.

Despite the large death toll, the study claims that the introduction in 2003 of the country’s controversial Disarmament Statute, which restricted gun ownership to those over 25 years of age and introduced security checks and a national firearms register, saved 160,000 lives between 2004 and 2012.

Some Brazilians believe that the statute might actually have helped increase the likelihood of deaths from gun violence. One firearms trader in São Paulo, who spoke to VICE News on the condition of anonymity, said that the statute made owning a gun legally virtually impossible for regular Brazilians. “The statute improved nothing, and now crime and deaths are up,” he said. “The authorities focused on regulating legal purchases to an absurd extent. It can take up to a year to get a license here.” He argued that the obstacles to ownership pushed people into buying illegal weapons.


How about that!

José Vicente da Silva Filho, a former colonel in the military police who served as Brazil’s national secretary of public security, vehemently disputes the deputy’s claims, and instead calls for the existing gun laws to be complemented by other reforms.

“The statute, which was a preliminary step, only had a limited effect, but giving people access to more guns is not the answer,” he told VICE News. “It’s thought that 15 percent of Brazilians have a weapon, compared to around 90 percent in the United States, but the difference is that [in Brazil] every additional percentage point of gun ownership pushes homicides up two percent.”

That says nothing about guns, but everything about the difference in culture between Brazil and the United States. Gun-grabbers in the U.S. should consider that the next time they pop off, but of course they won’t. Because that would be discriminating.


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