The number of gun-related deaths in Brazil was 42,416 in 2012, an equivalent to five deaths every hour, according to the 2015 Map of Violence survey. A collaboration of the federal government with the UN and the Latin American School of Social Sciences (FLACSO), the study revealed that this has been the worst result ever since the time the series began in 1980.
Based on the Ministry of Health’s Mortality Data Subsystem (SIM), a register of death certificates issued nationwide, the survey, released May 14, found that 94.5% of these deaths resulted from murder. Other causes were fatal accidents (284), suicide (989) or unknown (1,066). Out of the total of gun victims, 94% were male.
According to the Map of Violence, between 1980 and 2012, over 880,000 people died from gunshots. That number jumped from 8,710 in 1980 to 42,416 in 2012 – an increase of 387%. The population growth rate in the period was about 61%.
The second worst result in the time series was found for 2012, with 21.9 firearm-related deaths in every 100,000 people – even considering the population growth. This fact puts Brazil in 11th place among 90 countries surveyed. The worst rate, 22.2, was in 2002.
Regarding specifically gun murders, the 2012 mortality rate was 20.7 for every 100,000 people – the highest in the time series.
The Map of Violence has also revealed that among the 42,416 people who died from firearm shooting in the country in 2012, 24,882, or 58%, were aged 15-29. The number is the worst in the time series started in 1980 and reflects an approximate increase of 10% compared to 2011, when 22,433 young people were killed by firearms.
Since the beginning of the time series, the total number of deaths in the 15-29 age group rose from 4,415 (1980) to 24,882 (2012), an increase of 463.6%.
Also according to the Map, the growing number of gunshot fatalities among young people resulted from a rise in the murder rate in this age group. From 1980 to 2012, the total number of young people murdered with firearms grew by 655.5%.
According to sociologist Julio Jacobo Waiselfisz, author of the survey, the significant growth in the percentage of young people killed by firearms over the years in Brazil stems from an “abandonment” of public policies for this population segment.
These deaths, according to the sociologist, are directly related to the total number of weapons in the country. Between 1980 and 2003, Waiselfisz noted, this type of death increased in a constant and systematic pattern, a cycle that was broken in 2004 when the Disarmament Statute came into force.
For the survey author, any changes in the statute provisions designed to relax the sale and possession of weapons may lead to a “boom” in the number of deaths in the country. He criticized one such proposal that is under discussion by the Chamber of Deputies.
The sociologist argued that the Disarmament Statute failed to secure a steady reduction in firearm fatalities in the long run, but succeeded in stabilizing that number, though at high levels.
“The statute is one factor. A number of reforms are required, including the Procedural Code, the Criminal Code, the police system, as well as improving the police effectiveness. The statute, at least, [has led to] a stabilization, but a lot remains to be done by the authorities if we want to reduce this kind of death.”