Nine out of 10 homicides in Brazil are committed by handguns,
and contrary to what many
people think, a majority of these
crimes in the city of São Paulo are committed by people without
criminal records. Almost 60 percent of the victims die for futile
motives such as arguments on buses
and disputes in bars.
On July 23, the Brazilian Senate approved a project that prohibits gun licenses except for members of the armed
forces, civil, military and federal police, municipal guards of cities with a population of more than 500,000 inhabitants, and for
prison and security guards in the line of duty.
Ordinary citizens can own firearms if they are acquired from and registered with the National System of Arms
(SINARM) of the Justice Ministry and only if the owners fulfill specific requirements related to purpose, age, technical capacity
and psychological health. The minimum age to buy a gun was raised to 25 (it previously was 21 years of age). Under no
circumstance may the firearm leave the residence of the legal owner. All current gun owners must re-register with SINARM
within 90 days.
These restrictions on the sale and license of handguns will be voted upon by the population at a referendum to be
held in October 2005. The project stipulates that the fabrication of firearms and ammunition will be permitted only for export
or to supply official security and business institutions. An amendment to the project indicates that interstate bus companies
must use metal detectors in bus stations and in their vehicles.
The project includes penalties for non-compliance that include:
1. One to three years in prison and a fine for owning or maintaining a handgun or ammunition without legal
authorization, for permitting a minor under 18 years of age to handle a gun, to make or carry toys that can be confused with a firearm,
or to not report a robbery of an authorized firearm.
2. Two to four years in prison and a fine for carrying, fabricating, buying, selling, renting, and borrowing a firearm
in an illegal manner.
3. Three to six years in prison and a fine for owning, fabricating, buying, selling, and transporting firearms or
ammunition. The same penalty applies to anyone who modifies firearms or fabricates and carries explosive or inflammatory materials.
4. Four to eight years in prison and a fine for importing, exporting, or bringing firearms illegally into or taking them
out of the country.
According to Denise Mizne, director of an NGO, Sou da Paz (I Am for Peace), 9 out of 10 homicides in Brazil are
committed by handguns, and contrary to what many people think, a majority of these crimes in the city of São Paulo are committed
by people without criminal records. Almost 60 percent of the victims die for futile motives such as arguments on buses and
disputes in bars.
On the International Day of Disarmament (July 9) a thousand pairs of shoes with victims names were displayed in
homage to homicide victims of handguns in São Paulo. A silent procession in the center of the city organized by Sou da Paz
mobilized the population. Ediogenes Aragão Santos, whose son Manuel was assassinated with a fire gun in February, stated that he
hoped that others would become conscious of the need to disarm. "Disarmament is the primary prevention. Violence ends,
many times, in criminality because people have handguns close by".
Source: NGO Sou da Paz
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