Brazil's first demolition of firearms turned in to the Federal Police (PF)
as part of the National Disarmament Campaign will take place at a public ceremony
in the next few days.
This information comes
from the head of the PF's National Arms System (Sirnam), Commissioner Fernando
Segóvia. According to him, the idea is to erect "a monument to
peace and life" with the scrap from the destroyed weapons.
The federal government
initially hoped to remove 80 thousand weapons from circulation by the end
of the year, but in around a month the population has already turned in over
52 thousand arms, according to Segóvia. All the armament delivered
to the PF will be destroyed by the Army Command.
All those who turn in
arms will receive from US$ 33 (100 reais) to US$ 100 (300 reais) in compensation.
The maximum sum will be paid for semiautomatics and some types of pistols.
The government has 30 days to deposit the money in the checking account indicated
by the applicant.
Owners of unregistered
weapons will be obliged to turn them in or register them in compliance with
legal prerequisites by December 23. Otherwise, from this date on, they will
be in criminal violation and are liable to be sent to jail if caught red-handed
with a weapon, since the Disarmament Statute determines that illegal bearing
of weapons is a crime without bail.
The Commissioner assured
that no citizen who turns in an unregistered weapon by December 23 will be
investigated. "He will not answer for the crime; we don't care who the
person is who possesses the weapon; we just want to destroy it."
On the first day of the
Disarmament Campaign alone, the federal police received 300 weapons around
the country. However, many more weapons were turned over to local police.
Unregistered weapons need a 24-hour "safe conduct" pass from the
federal police before they can be legally turned in.
On July 1st,
Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva signed a decree containing
the necessary legislation to make the Disarmament Statute law.
The decree has 77 articles
on a wide variety of items. It deals with types of weapons, their use and
restrictions on use, as well as regulations for ownership.
The decree also establishes
the National Weapons System (Sinam), housed in the Ministry of Justice, and
the Military Weapons Management System, housed in the Ministry of Defense.
There will be restrictions
on imports of weapons. The restrictions are detailed in the decree. All police
firearms will also have to be registered. Firearm licenses will have to be
renewed every three years.
The government has US$3.2
million to compensate people who turn in weapons.
Two years ago, Brazil
requested assistance from the UN Latin American and Caribbean Regional Center
for Peace, Disarmament and Development in its efforts to implement gun control.
Juliana Andrade works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official press
agency of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at email@example.com.
from the Portuguese by David Silberstein.