.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Brazil's Gun Referendum

(UPDATE: The Nos won, by a LOT -- 64% No to 36% Yes. Not even close. The No versus Yes vote to ban the commercialisation of firearms in Brazil was overwhelming shot down, with not one of the 26 Brazilian States voting Yes. At the end of counting. The Yes Lobbyists are now claiming the National Rifle Association sent shock troops of helpers to flood Brazil with pro-gun leaflets and general information. But I wonder, even if this is true, what of what I read were the concerted anti-gun organisations around the world? As ever, people who claim it's a hatchet job by a certain political or philosophical ideology just don't get it.



It's how they represent themselves that is at fault, not the paucity of their opponents' premise, namely, that people prefer to have access to firearms as part of their civil rights. They won't learn any time soon)

On Sunday, October 23, Brazil will be the first country in the world to ask its citizens to vote at a national level, on a referendum which asks this simple question:

"Should the commerce of arms and ammunition be prohibited in Brazil?"

Other countries have indeed banned the sale and commercialisation of handguns and ammo.

This, however, is the first recorded instance of asking the electorate to decide on its continued legalisation, or immediate prohibition.

Front Page of Saturday's Globo, the paper of record in Brazil

I could give you a dozen reasons for either side of the argument in this debate, one which, by the way, has energised the everyday discussion of an already talkative society.

I know their society very well, which is why I don't encourage people to use their own countries' cultural arguments to weigh in with an opinion.

Every country has its own delicate social dynamic, based on their cultural norms. I am no relativist, but I tread diplomatically on the feet of countries I respect.

So hear instead, a viewpoint from a real Brazilian, the blog-owner of Made In Brazil -- a blog for gay males by the looks of it, as a semi-naked Adriano in the frontispiece might confirm.

This is a case in point.

Based on your own cultural definitions, or how many gay people might trend in their thinking on certain issues in your country, you might think this Brazilian would be lock, step in line with those attitudes.

Think again.

The question to me is whether or not this measure will be effective in terms of preventing real criminals from having access to guns.

Considering that most guns used to commit crimes or murder are most likely stolen or smuggled into the country, I find that banning guns will simply make it more difficult for a certain segment of the population to protect themselves.


He continues in his assessment of why guns is a different issue, than say, it is in the United States:

There are no Columbine-like cases in Brazil. Most often people do not kill because they are crazy (or because they listen to too much Marilyn Manson). Crime has gotten way out of hand because of ineffective public security and a flawed legal system.

Finally, his conclusion, which is that he'll vote NO to the ban, is very forthright.
Focusing on this issue alone is simply a way of disguising the real problems that are so apparent to most people who have lived in Brazil: corruption, hunger, drug traffic, poverty, and one of the world's worst income distribution.

Were I a Brazilian, I would vote the same way, and for almost identically the same reasons.

I'll update this story with more analysis, with the results as they appear, and with other links of interest, including a rebuttal argument from another Brazilian, in fairness' sake.

UPDATE: More numbers and stats about the Gun Referendum, from Brazil's most influential newspaper, GLOBO. Note, they're bothersome about signing up for an account, so I'll copy/paste the relevant info below.

Globo, the equivalent of the New York Times in the US, was founded by Roberto Marinho exactly 80 years ago. It was long considered friendly to the right-wing military of the 1960-80s period. However, since that time, they have a much more open tone.

As ever with MSM, there are ways of expressing your opinions as a collective body, yet appear neutral. The "framing" of their Referendum Section has several information pieces such as "Veja os números da violência" (Click to see the violence numbers) and "Leia aqui histórias de quem viveu situações com armas de fogo ou envie a sua" (Click here to read stories of those who live through gun-ridden situations or send us your own account).

To their amazement, I'm sure, the majority of stories are by people who DEFENDED themselves with their guns, and will be voting No.

Here's one story:

Meu pai recentemente evitou o roubo do seu carro, que acontecia na garagem do nosso prédio, simplesmente mostrando, da janela, o seu revolver ao bandido. ele saiu correndo e nunca mais voltou. (o mesmo ladrão havia arrombado carros no predio 2 vezes antes de ver a arma na janela) -- Luiz Lozer - vitoria

Translation mine:

"My father recently avoided a carjacking which happened in the garage of our building. He simply showed the would-be carnapper his gun, from inside his window and he fled running, never again returning. The same thief had already twice taken cars in the same building, before seeing the gun at the window."

Number of Brazilians Eligible to Vote: 122,102,746
Electoral Sections: 368,384
Municipal Zones: 5,564
Eligible Voters Abroad: 59,921 (that can't be right -- or, there are a LOT more illegals outside than even I thought)
Voter Breakdown: Women, 62,743,326; Men, 59,171,986; Not Identified, 187,434 (odd stat)
Largest "Electoral College" (State): São Paulo, 27,303,895. Rio de Janeiro is a mere 10,645,180
Largest Demographic: 25-to-34 year olds, 28,772,829

Voting is MANDATORY in Brazil, and that's taken very seriously. You face fines if you don't, such as not having your passport renewed if you can't prove you voted.

As for not presenting ID to vote, like in Georgia and other places in the US, that would be laughed out of town.

You have to present three forms of ID: your National Identity Card, your Voter's Card, and your CIC (a kind of Social Security Card). No ifs ands or buts.

Rebuttal Piece: A Just Exchange, Arms for Peace by Márcio Thomaz Bastos

(Registration Required in Portuguese. Here's an extract)
Levando-se em conta que muitos crimes de morte atingem a população na faixa etária dos 17 aos 29 anos, é importante ressaltar que o desarmamento contribuiu principalmente para a preservação de vidas que representam o futuro do Brasil. Ajudou a evitar assassinatos inúteis, como do menino que discute com um colega, pega a arma do pai e mata seu desafeto.

Translation mine:

"Taking into account that many of the crimes that affect a population lie between ages 17-to-29 years old, it's important to highlight this disarmament has already, most importantly, contributed to the preservation of lives which represent the future of Brazil. It helped to avoid useless murders, like that of the kid who has a fight with his pal, picks up his dad's gun and kills his annoyer."

Mr. Bastos is referring to the year-long Brazilian Government programme which has sought voluntary donations of firearms from all over Brazil (a country larger than the lower 48 United States, it must be remembered). That number is considerable: as of September 2005, there were 451,542 weapons voluntarily handed over. It ends today, the day before the Referendum.

Latest Poll (8 PM EDT): 10 percentage points favouring "No", a sudden shift upwards from an earlier poll on 14 October. These numbers are via IBOPE, the Gallup Poll of Brazil.

Numbers Breakdown:

No 49% then. Now 51%.
Yes 45% then. Now 41%.
But the undecideds have shot UP, from 6% to today's 8%.

My reading of this is that as the rhetoric goes from the idealised to reality, those who were pro-Yes are slowly coming around to Pro-No. But they're not there yet, so they're undecided, hence, the shift upwards in that category.

7 Comments:

  • The similarities on this issue between our countries are striking. I found this concern to be the most exact:
    "Crime has gotten way out of hand because of ineffective public security and a flawed legal system."
    This is my identical belief, that as people should take personal responsibility they are ultimately and solely responsible for their safety. And therefore should not be denied the tools necessary.
    At least in Brazil, the people are being allowed to decide the gun issue; here liberal groups seek control through legislation or the courts, an outright vote is never discussed.
    I so wish voting and the methods for checking eligible voters were the same here.
    I couldn't read the rebuttal piece, it required registration, in Spanish, which is fine, but I can't read or write it. Was that a test? :)
    At first I was surprised by the poll's closeness, then realized it would be about the same here.
    Great post, I love reading about an issue in a S. American country I'd never see in the MSM.

    By Blogger Paul, at Sat Oct 22, 09:47:00 am GMT-4  

  • The similarities on this issue between our countries are striking. I found this concern to be the most exact:
    "Crime has gotten way out of hand because of ineffective public security and a flawed legal system."


    I would say that many people around the world would have a similar first-impression.

    "Hey! That's our case too."

    But back up a moment.

    Brazil and the US share many many similarities, including a can-do self-sufficiency which other South American countries are either too small or too stratified socially and racially, to mimic.

    But however much you feel, Paul, that the US has a flawed court system and police, you cannot IMAGINE the realities of the Brazilian situation.

    Corruption, sloth, and unprofessional attitudes exist everywhere, but in Third World countries, they are a pandemic.

    You try to slip a cop $50 to get out of a fine, or to give a judge in the $1000 to rule favourably for you.

    Sure, there are those who accept, but the overwhelming majority would put you in gaol immediately.

    In the US, corruption is a question of exceptions. In Brazil, it's the status-quo.

    This is my identical belief, that as people should take personal responsibility they are ultimately and solely responsible for their safety. And therefore should not be denied the tools necessary.

    I would say the same, although I am not a gun-owner, and frankly, I don't like guns.

    However, I have been taught how to use them by my military family.

    At least in Brazil, the people are being allowed to decide the gun issue; here liberal groups seek control through legislation or the courts, an outright vote is never discussed.

    Right, good point.

    I so wish voting and the methods for checking eligible voters were the same here.

    My take is a little different than yours, insomuch that I am not against the Brady Bill, per se.

    Gun-monitoring, registration, etc. is a good thing.

    Gun-banning is not.

    I couldn't read the rebuttal piece, it required registration, in Spanish, which is fine, but I can't read or write it. Was that a test? :)

    Well, first of all, you failed the language skills portion of the test! ;)

    Remember Paul, Brazilians don't speak Spanish. They were colonised by Portugal, not Spain.

    They speak Portuguese, and are touchy about this matter. :)

    At first I was surprised by the poll's closeness, then realized it would be about the same here.

    Oh for sure!

    Great post, I love reading about an issue in a S. American country I'd never see in the MSM.

    Very very little coverage of it, and perhaps there you might have your answer.

    As you say, certain elements of the population wish to legislate away our Second Amendment rights. Or influence the judiciary, etc.

    But outright voting by the populace? A nightmare -- since the majority of Americans would vote "No" to banning firearms. Case closed.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Sat Oct 22, 03:58:00 pm GMT-4  

  • Sigh, I did a big cut and paste a few hours ago, who knows where it went but I'm too lazy to do it again.
    I kind of agree with you about our law enforcement and judicial system. However they are both rife with a double standard system I never liked but did observe.
    Weapons registration serves only to find out who a weapon belongs to and in most cases because it has been stolen in a property crime. It is good for that and not much else.
    If you aren't comfortable carrying a weapon, you should have one in your home. Just my opinion.
    My wish that their mandatory voting and identification checking were the same here, was for all voting, not just the vote on weapons.
    I had to paste this..

    Well, first of all, you failed the language skills portion of the test! ;)

    Remember Paul, Brazilians don't speak Spanish. They were colonised by Portugal, not Spain.

    They speak Portuguese, and are touchy about this matter. :)


    1. Failing test - doesn't surprise me.
    2. They never taught me that in school, as I can remember, a failure of the education system, really.
    3. Well, then I'm glad I couldn't write in Spanish, they would have been really mad at me when I filled the form in!

    I wonder, just what the vote would be on banning the ownership of firearms. I would hope it would be an overwhelming "No", but now, I'm not sure it wouldn't be close.
    Hey! Case Closed, is a phrase I used to write a lot. It's mine! :)

    Thanks, your post was fascinating and educating.

    By Blogger Paul, at Sat Oct 22, 10:52:00 pm GMT-4  

  • 3. Well, then I'm glad I couldn't write in Spanish, they would have been really mad at me when I filled the form in!

    Yup. :)

    I wonder, just what the vote would be on banning the ownership of firearms. I would hope it would be an overwhelming "No", but now, I'm not sure it wouldn't be close.

    You mean about the US? You know...in Brazil, I have since found out, the YES to ban firearms was polled at over 80%.

    EIGHTY PER CENT!

    But, as I noted in my fluctuating numbers of undecideds sentence, as time got nearer, that just dropped dramatically.

    Going into today, it's a 10 percentage points gain for the NOs.

    We'll see.

    I have GLOBO TV, so if I have power, I will update the story for you all. :)

    Thanks, your post was fascinating and educating.

    I'm really cheesed Instapundit and other Big Bloggers, of any political stripe, didn't mention this topic AT ALL.

    Believe me, I emailed a few to make sure at least one posted SOMETHING on it.

    Nada. That I saw anyway.

    Don't tell me it's not an important story either. Maybe it's just not to do with Iraq or Katrina or...sigh.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Sun Oct 23, 04:36:00 pm GMT-4  

  • To be fair, Georgia tried to require identification for voting, but it was stuck down as a poll tax. The best way around that is to just make IDs free.

    I think most people in the U.S. would like IDs to be necessary to vote. The only people against it would be politicians who win elections thanks to votes by illegal aliens or dead people.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Oct 23, 08:50:00 pm GMT-4  

  • To be fair, Georgia tried to require identification for voting, but it was stuck down as a poll tax. The best way around that is to just make IDs free.

    I understand, but in a sense, that was my point.

    ID cards are not free, they cost money too.

    Everyone in the US has access to a State ID (10$ Florida) or a Driver's Licence, which is almost universal here.

    Don't tell me that people can't present the littlest ID to prove who they are.

    We even accept COSTCO cards and Disney World Client cards...it's just too unprofessional and silly.

    OTOH, I personally am against National ID cards, and that's precisely my point.

    Everyone who complains about ID cards being racist, would be laughed out of town if they said that in Brazil.

    As you note, Anonymous, that is asking for trouble in voting.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Sun Oct 23, 11:07:00 pm GMT-4  

  • Nada. That I saw anyway.

    Don't tell me it's not an important story either. Maybe it's just not to do with Iraq or Katrina or...sigh.


    I saw nothing anywhere else. It is very important and a reminder, thank you, that the world is moving to other beats besides Iraq and hurricanes.
    I'm looking forward to hearing the results, please.

    By Blogger Paul, at Mon Oct 24, 05:37:00 am GMT-4  

Post a Comment

Who linked Here:

Create a Link

<< Home


 




Advertise on blogs
British Expat Blog Directory.