Sunday, April 01, 2018

Brazil Considers Easing Extreme Gun Law, Allowing Self Defense

Homemade Submachine Guns in Brazil

Brazil has extremely strict gun control laws, and relatively few firearms. It is estimated there are about 17 million firearms in Brazil. Only 5.4 million are legally owned by private parties. 2.2 million are owned by the military and police, and 9.5 million are illegally possessed.  It would take centuries of rigorous enforcement of gun confiscation to reach that level in the United States, if it ever were possible. There are over 400 million firearms in private hands in the United States.  A number comparable to Brazil's 17 million guns and 200 million people would be 28 million guns for the United States 330 million people.

Brazil has a very high murder rate. Brazil's level of murder is currently about 39 per 100,000 people. Brazil is in the top 20 nations for homicide in the world.

One of the candidates leading the field for October’s 2018 presidential election -- hardline conservative Jair Bolsonaro -- has promised to allow law-abiding citizens to arm themselves, a popular pledge in the nation with by far the most homicides of the entire world. Even before then, Congress may debate legislation to overturn the “disarmament statute,” a law that effectively bans civilian gun ownership, except in rare circumstances. The proposal would allow Brazilians with clean criminal records who pass psychological and firearm exams to buy up to six weapons.

“Everyday, everywhere you look, the criminal is armed with a high-powered weapon as the citizen tries to hide,” Rogerio Peninha Mendonca, the lawmaker behind the proposal, said in an interview. “What we want is for the citizen to be more capable of defending himself.”
In 1980, Brazil had a homicide rate of about 12 per 100,000 people, only a little higher than the United States with a homicide rate of of 10.2 in the same year.  In 2017, 37 years later, the United States homicide rate dropped in half to 5.2, while Brazil's rate more than tripled to over 39.

Between 1980 and 2017, the United States incrementally restored Second Amendment rights while the number of guns owned per capita increased from .75 to 1.25, or 67%. Brazil took the opposite approach, placing numerous restrictions on gun ownership.

It is virtually impossible for a private Brazilian to obtain a permit to carry a gun outside of their home, or to legally use it for defense inside their home.

In the United States, self defense inside the home is a treasured right, Constitutionally protected in American law. The carry of firearms outside the home has become common. There are over 16 millions permits to carry guns in the United States. 12 states do not require a permit to carry a gun concealed, and 30 states do not require a permit to carry a gun openly.

Private firearms In the United States will reach 430 million by the end of 2018. To reduce to only 28 million guns, 400 million would need to be confiscated.  The United States, with about 1.25 guns per person, had a homicide rate of 5.2 per 100,000 in 2017. Brazil, with .085 guns per person, less than 7% that of the United States, has a homicide rate more than seven times as great as the United States.

Most Western countries saw a remarkable drop in homicides from the early 1990s to the middle 2010s. Both Australia and the United States saw their homicide rates drop in half, in spite of their opposite approach to gun ownership and self defense.

Brazil's homicide rate nearly doubled. Brazil attempted Australia's approach of extreme restrictions on gun ownership in 2003. It did not work. Homicides leveled off for a few years, then climbed dramatically to the current levels near 40 per 100,000.

Looking to the United States, some Brazilian politicians believe allowing law abiding citizens to defend themselves could reduce the high homicide rate in Brazil. At minimum, it would allow the law abiding a fighting chance against armed criminals.

Brazil's experience shows that few illegal firearms are necessary for very high homicide rates. Moreover, many of Brazil's illegal firearms are made in homes and small shops in the black market. A favorite firearm of Brazilian criminal is the small shop black-market submachine gun.

Submachine guns are some of the easiest repeating firearms to make in small shops.

Brazil's experience shows it is unlikely that restrictions on gun ownership will have any effect on homicide levels.

©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

Gun Watch

No comments: