New Brazilian Campaign for Disarmament
By Dialogo January 04, 2013
Brazil has recently launched the fourth edition of the National Campaign for Disarmament, which was initiated in 2004, after the Disarmament Statute Law passed, making it more difficult for Brazilian citizens to obtain firearms.
The main goal of this campaign is to reduce the high number of homicides, to regulate firearm license and registration, and withdraw a certain number of weapons from the streets by compensating those who hand them over voluntarily.
Some segments of society have been criticizing this alternative, especially due to the high level of violence and corruption in cities, and the high cost to public funds, since the two first editions, in 2004 and 2008, cost 44 million reais (almost $21,500,000). However, they reached excellent results, reducing the number of homicides by 12.5 percent in certain regions of the country, and collecting 500,000 units of different calibers, which were subsequently destroyed by the Army.
Official statistics on firearms linked to homicides are not favorable. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Brazil has one of the highest homicide rates in the world, placing the country in third place; and it is also the highest-ranked country in the number of violent deaths caused by firearms. The 2011 Terrorism and Political Violence Map estimated that 70.5 percent of the 50,000 homicides registered every year are caused by firearms; in other words, approximately 35,000 deaths per year, a rate considered epidemic.
Among the 16 million weapons existing in the country, 7.6 million are illegally circulating in the hands of criminals or people who are not registered. The fact that only eight of every 100 homicides are solved by the police and that about 4 to 5 percent result in conviction, contributes to the exacerbation of this situation.
Within this context, regardless of the lobby opposing these actions, Brazilian authorities have been improving the legislation that deals with this matter to modify the Statute, by including a law for illegal commerce and international firearm traffic, which increases the requirements for the purchase and grant of firearm licenses combined with increased and stricter legal penalties. The control of extensive land and maritime borders against international firearm trafficking is currently a big challenge.
*André Luís Woloszyn – Strategic Affairs Analyst
First disarm the criminals who are the ones really responsible for the high levels [of crimes]â€¦