Brazil's gun ban vote upcoming, Criminals cheer for a ban.
Brazil: This is amazing stupidity on the part of those who want to ban guns.
|Brazil's Oct. 23 vote on whether to ban gun sales, which the government says is the world's first nationwide referendum on firearms, is being watched closely by gun makers and opponents across the globe as a referendum that could set a precedent for campaigns in other countries.
Brazil has the highest number of gun deaths in the world, with 36,091 people shot and killed last year, according to government figures.
Over 120 million people are expected to vote on the bill in Brazil, where voting is compulsory. Television and radio ads financed by groups on both sides of the debate have bombarded Brazilians.
"Those who want disarmament, raise your right hand," read the pro-gun leaflet, alluding to Nazi Germany's decision to ban guns for civilians in 1938.
Since the media blitz started several weeks ago, support for the ban has fallen and it now looks like voters are increasingly split on the issue.
Just two months ago, polls showed 80 percent would vote for the ban. A survey released on Friday showed that number had plummeted to 45 percent.
Even the government is divided. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva endorses the ban. But his vice president and defense minister, Jose Alencar, says the ban would encourage criminals.
Human rights groups endorse the government-proposed ban, dismissing as absurd claims it would be a threat to democracy. But some groups acknowledge the prohibition of legal gun sales would not reduce the arsenals held by dreaded drug gangs and other criminals, as Lima hopes.
Almost 60 percent of an estimated 17 million guns in Brazil were obtained illegally, said human and social rights group Viva Rio.
Over the past year, violent shootouts between drug gangs armed with assault rifles have often shut the scenic ocean-side road connecting Rio's famous Leblon and Sao Conrado beaches.
"The population is unprotected, left at the mercy of armed thugs, while the government is not investing in security," said Alberto Fraga, a legislator who leads the gun lobby. "This vote doesn't disarm the criminals," he said.
If Latin America's largest country votes in favor of the ban, all sales of guns and ammunition to civilians will be halted, leaving those who already have registered firearms without bullets.
Police, judges, firefighters and security firms will be able to buy guns for private and official use, sales that are likely to sustain local manufacturers like Forjas Taurus |