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Brazzil - Arms Control - August 2004

Brazil's Gun for Cash Drive Is a Hit

Brazilians who own unregistered weapons must turn them in
or register them by December 23. Brazil's Disarmament Statute
determines that illegal bearing of weapons is a crime without bail.
The country is now promoting a disarmament campaign. In one
month, more than 50,000 guns have been surrendered to police.

Juliana Andrade


Picture 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 lia@radiobras.gov.br.
Translated from the Portuguese by David Silberstein.

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