Farewell to Arms

Farewell
      to Arms

Rio’s governor, Anthhony Garotinho has compared past governmental
efforts to disarm the population to drying ice. "The only way for us to get a
positive result," he said, "is by eliminating half of the weapons we have
now."

By Francesco Neves

"Rio, lower your weapon!" With this catchy slogan, Rio de Janeiro’s governor
Anthony Garotinho has started a campaign to reduce the number of weapons in the state and
in turn reduce the crime rate. He promises the effort will be serious and concrete and not
just a new publicity stunt. Garotinho wants to forbid the sale of weapons in the entire
state. According to insiders, today there are approximately one million weapons—legal
and illegal—in the state of Rio in the hands of civilians. Numbers from Rio’s
Secretaria de Segurança Pública (Bureau of Public Security) reveal that the number of
legal weapons is about 600,000. Garotinho is sponsoring a bill by Assemblyman Carlos Minc
from the leftist PT (Partido dos Trabalhadores—Workers’ Party). Minc’s proposal
forbids commercialization of pistols, revolvers, and bullets, among other devices.

The governor has threatened to impose sanctions on weapons stores in case the project
is not approved. One way of doing this would be by not renewing or issuing new permits for
this kind of business. "And how about the constitution?", a reporter asked.
"Unconstitutional is shooting all over," he answered.

Rubem César Fernandes, executive secretary of the peoples’ empowerment movement Viva
Rio and one of the leaders of the antigun initiative, has made a special appeal to women
to participate in the campaign by ridding their own homes of weapons. He said, "By
and large, women fear weapons and they are the ones who suffer the consequences of the
violence by losing husbands, sons, and fathers because they were armed."

Garotinho has compared past governmental efforts to disarm the population to drying
ice. "The only way for us to get a positive result," he said, "is by
eliminating half of the weapons we have now."

There will be no new weapon registration. Surprise traffic blitzes will be intensified.
Every legal weapon found will have to be re-registered and illegal ones will be destroyed.
On the other hand, the Bureau of Security will create a Center of Intelligence in order to
find how illegal weapons fall in the hands of civilians.

According to sub-secretary of Security Luís Eduardo Soares, the initiative inspired by
New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani is to be taken seriously: "The government and police
will actively participate. The basic idea is zero tolerance for weapons."

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