Tuesday, October 25, 2005


A proposal to ban the sale of guns in Brazil has been defeated by a clear majority in a referendum. Sixty-four percent of those who voted rejected the proposed ban, which was backed by the government, the Catholic Church and the United Nations. The gun ownership lobby successfully argued that guns were needed for personal security.

Guns kill one person in Brazil every 15 minutes, giving it the world's highest death toll from firearms. Last year, there were 36,000 shooting deaths. The UN says guns are the biggest cause of death among young people in Brazil.

The immediate consequence of the referendum is that gun shops will remain open. The BBC's Steve Kingstone in Sao Paulo says that the result may surprise outsiders, given the horrific scale of gun violence in Brazil.

The defeated "Yes" campaign had enjoyed an early lead in the opinion polls, but it was quickly outmanoeuvred. The "No" campaign convinced voters that the proposed ban would have no effect on criminals, on the grounds that criminals do not buy guns legally in shops.

It also argued that a gun ban would be a breach of civil rights. Beni Barbosa, the "No" campaign spokesman, said: "We managed to get our message across that Brazilians have individual rights which the state cannot take away." "Here, people were not choosing whether to have a gun or not. They were voting for their rights to choose."

Anti-gun campaigners said the swing away from a "Yes" vote was the result of people's desire to protest against the government's security policy. "We didn't lose because Brazilians like guns. We lost because people don't have confidence in the government or the police," said Denis Mizne, of anti-violence group Sou da Paz. "The 'No' campaign was much more effective. They are talking about a right to have a gun - it is a totally American debate."

More here

Ban baseball bats!: "The baseball bat has become the weapon of choice for a growing number of criminals in New Hampshire. Consider: In May, Mayor Bob Baines witnessed a fight involving a baseball bat outside a downtown nightclub. On Aug. 11 Stephen Raymond was brutally struck down by an assailant swinging a red baseball bat. On Sept. 4, men armed with baseball bats and an ax beat a McDonald's custodian in Meredith. ... All this makes us wonder, will anti-gun types soon begin calling for the registration and regulation of ball bats? Will Louisville Slugger adopt the slogan, 'Baseball bats don't kill people, people do?'"

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