For a long time and with intensification nowadays, it is discussed the convenience or not of limiting the access of the population, without criminal antecedents, to firearms for the purposes of personal and patrimonial self-defense.
It is stated that legal obstacles only have an effect on the access to firearms by persons not involved in crime or who do not have such practices. As for criminals, as it is of their nature, they do not care about prohibitions or legal authorizations. That claim is in fact well founded.
The offender does not really mind even a minimum of whether or not a “Disarmament Statute” exists. On the other hand, the population in general, not involved in criminal practices, finds itself surrounded by a legal bureaucracy for possession and, especially, the authorization of the legal possession of a firearm.
It occurs that the issue of the release or mitigation of the limitations to possession and legal possession of firearms is not reduced to this truism. There are serious doubts as to the effects of civilian weaponry and their possible relationship with an increase in harmful and lethal confrontations in everyday situations, as well as a possible facilitation of access by criminals to those weapons that would then be in the possession of the civilian population.
Likewise, it is questioned whether flexibility in access to arms could result in a reduction in criminal rates, as advocates say.
Before discussing this debate, however, it should be noted that trade in firearms, accessories and ammunition in Brazil was not prohibited by the Disarmament Statute, since during a referendum held in October 2005, 63% of Brazilians voted favoring the marketing of these artifacts.
In fact, in compliance with legal requirements, any citizen over the age of 25 may purchase firearms to keep them inside his residence or at his place of work, provided that he is the owner or legal guardian of the establishment or company (art. 4 of the Disarmament Statute).
Following this observation, we highlight that several factors are relevant in this debate. An argument currently used against the release of arms to the population concerns the large number of homicides that mark Brazilian criminal statistics. In response, advocates of liberation point out that crude statistics do not reveal the fact that almost all of these homicides are perpetrated by persistent criminals with illegal weapons or by violent youths who would not have access to legalized weapons.
In contrast, the fact that the arms of society would not affect the illegal trade in firearms, on the contrary, the viability of this trade would inevitably result in the reduction of the values of weapons in the “black market”. It is estimated that a rifle today costs approximately 30 thousand reais in illegal trade, and with the flexibility of the rules on the subject this amount would fatally be halved.
Precisely for this reason, it is believed to be illusory the perception that the change in the law would make possible a greater control on the circulation of arms in the country, since, besides the criminals, many “citizens of good” also would opt for the illegal commerce whose values would be much more attractive.
The fact is that today Brazil has a huge deficiency in the control of its borders, which affects not only the illegal arms trade, but also drug trafficking, smuggling, and so on. The Federal Police, which is responsible for border control (dry and wet), now has less than 10,000 police officers.
Argentina, a country with a territorial extension much lower than Brazil, has almost 30,000 federal police officers and Mexico, in turn, has a staff close to 60,000. It remains evident, therefore, the need for investment in this area!
Another fear is that the armed civilian, when trying to resist an approach of a criminal, in a robbery, for example, will be injured or even killed, increasing the already enormous lethality in our country and still giving the offender the possibility of subtracting another firearm and ammunition. Furthermore, it is argued that firearms are, above all, instruments of attack rather than defense, which, at least in theory, would bring more risk to armed citizens.
Another group, authors like John R. Lott Jr., shows that statistically the fact of having an armed population inhibits the performance of criminals and reduces the number of clashes. LOTT JR. works with direct sources of numbers that prove his thesis, however they are numbers referring to Anglo-Saxon countries and Europeans, having nothing on the Brazilian reality, even because we do not go through the experience of the liberation of the arms. The same conclusion, based also on direct statistical sources, comes Joyce Lee Malcolm, regarding the “English experience”.
EHRLICH draws attention to the fact that in countries such as Canada, where the population does not usually have firearms at home, the rates of residential burglary, even with the residents present, are “three times higher” than in countries such as the United States, “where gun ownership is more common.”
It happens that in an excellent study on the subject, CERQUEIRA and MELLO, researchers of the IPEA, indicate researches that demonstrate the exact opposite, otherwise we see:
Some authors have examined not the relationship between firearms and crimes, but whether the presence of the gun inside the homes increases the likelihood of victimization of the residents themselves. Among these, Kellermann et al. (1993), based on information obtained from police records and home visits, used matching techniques with conditional logistic regression to conclude that the firearm kept at home for protection, on the other hand, is a risk factor for homicide at home, regardless of other factors. In this same line of investigation, Cummings et al. (1997) analyzed cases of suicide and homicide, based on geo-referenced models, in which information on firearm (short) records from 1940 to 1993 in the USA was considered. From logistic regressions, the authors concluded that families with a history of arms acquisition have a risk of committing suicide or two times greater homicide than families without weapons, and that this risk persists for more than five years after the acquisition of the firearm.
Along the same lines, John J. Donohue demonstrates in a more recent study the fallacy of the motto More Weapons, Less Crimes , in contrast to the study of LOTT JR., Already quoted. DONOHUE estimates that the adoption of more permissive laws to the armament of the population raises in up to 15% the index of violent crimes.
In a similar study, MCCLELLAN examines the impact of the Stand Your Ground laws on firearm homicides and injuries in the United States. Using state monthly data and a difference-difference identification strategy, it is concluded that these laws result in increased homicides.
According to the author’s estimates, at least 30 individuals are killed each month as a result of the Stand Your Ground laws . In addition, it documents evidence suggesting that these laws are also associated with an increase in admissions related to injuries inflicted by firearms. Taken together, the findings in this article raise serious doubts about LOTT JR’s argument that more weapons result in fewer crimes.
Reinforcing these conclusions, but focusing on the Brazilian reality, CERQUEIRA demonstrates, through data analysis of the Public Security Secretariat of São Paulo and the Ministry of Health, the following:
The evidence found here suggests that, in the analyzed period, there was a decrease in the prevalence of firearms in São Paulo; and that disarmament has had important effects in reducing lethal crimes, but has not had a significant impact on crimes against property, which indirectly implies the irrelevance of the alleged deterrent effect on crime by the potentially armed victim. In other words, “Less weapons, less crime”.
In contrast, critics of these types of statistical studies point to interesting arguments. As for suicides, the study is made using, of course, data from families in which firearms and suicides were purchased, which would inevitably result in a conclusion that in these families the number of suicides by firearm It is huge.
However, if the same research were carried out with thick and long ropes or with rat poison, with the object of suicide numbers, respectively, by hanging and poisoning, the results would be identical. Would that suggest a solution to the ban on string and rat poison? Or at least the creation of a whole bureaucracy around that, making it difficult for people to access these products?
Similar reasoning can be done with regard to invasion data from households where there were weapons and incidents of violence. The presence of the weapon is linked to the violence perpetrated, but this occurs in numerous cases of unarmed families as well. Focusing on the presence of weapons, the result ends up being directed.
In addition, there are no record or statistics of the numerous cases in which someone managed to avoid the invasion of their house, a theft, a robbery, because they were armed, had a gun at home, made a simple shot up or just pointed and the offender fled.
These people do not normally record these facts, so the existing records only relate to cases where there was violence against the villagers, regardless of whether they were armed. But a huge and incalculable black cipher acts without being able to encompass it in research. After all, most people know of cases or have ever experienced in their own family, the expulsion of thieves and other aggressors because someone was armed.
It should be noted, however, that in many of these cases the “black figure” is increased precisely because of the unlawful possession of the firearm, which also hampers the empirical analysis of data. This observation was not forgotten by CERQUEIRA and MELLO:
Lastly, there is still the problem of measurement errors which, however, has less serious consequences in terms of estimating the effect of weapons on crime. In general, two potential measurement errors can occur. First, in view of the problem of underreporting of crimes, it is expected that the dependent variable will be measured with error. This problem is not very important in the case of lethal crimes against life and in the case of auto theft and robberies, whose underreporting is residual. In other crimes, such as theft, fraud, etc., the underreporting rate may reach 80%, as indicated by the various victimization surveys applied in Brazil. Even so, there being regularity in this underreporting rate, there would be no greater problems. It occurs that underreporting, as well as the demand for weapons, increases or decreases depending on the perception of the population regarding the quality and reliability of the police, which is an unobserved variable. In this case, the underreporting problem would lead to skewed and inconsistent estimates. Therefore, the problems of omitted variables and simultaneity are of great importance in formulating a model to estimate the causal effect of weapons on crime. In order for the estimated coefficients to be non-skewed and consistent, it is necessary to use an identification strategy that adequately addresses these two problems. In principle, an extremely credible identification strategy would be the formulation of a natural experiment, in which, for two subpopulations with identical characteristics, in only one of these subpopulations an exogenous variation of the policy to be evaluated was made. Obviously, as in the present case such an experiment is out of the question, there are other alternative approaches that seek, ultimately, to emulate the results that would be obtained with the use of a natural experiment.
Looking at the issue from a poorly explored perspective of “Human Rights”, SANTOS points out that the internal and external legal documents that guarantee these rights are not impediments to citizen self-defense when it suffers exactly a violation of its own rights by of criminals who attack your freedom, your physical integrity, your assets and even your life.
In this context, obstacles to the civilian armaments of the citizen would ultimately be obstacles to the effectiveness of “self-defense and self-defense” at a time when the State is not present to guarantee Public Security.
The same author also analyzes statistical data from other countries and Brazil itself on violence and points to the fact that one of the factors that increase the boldness of criminals in Brazil is the adoption, by the State and by civil society itself, including by the dominant media , of what he calls an “ideology of surrender,” when it is geared towards civil disarmament and a passive attitude of non-resistance of the citizen to crime. SANTOS presents a conclusion:
“The only honest conclusion that can be reached is that it is not possible to establish a direct correlation between armed people and high homicide rates, whether the developed people or not.”
At this point we are forced to disagree, for the degree of civility and development of a country or a society is directly linked to its criminal statistics.
The more backward a society, the greater the need to regulate everything by law. Unfortunately, we live in a country where the elderly and the disabled are not respected, a country known as “the way”, in which many seek to benefit to the detriment of others.
Would it be prudent to set up a society full of interpersonal conflicts, whether in an accident in traffic or in a discussion between neighbors? In a country where ethical and moral values are not well developed, it is at least reckless the weaponry of society.
However, it is considered that the scenario is complicated when data on firearm homicides are analyzed and it is realized that, to the conclusion that large numbers of homicides occur with firearms in banal discussions between neighbors or in domestic violence, are considered only cases of “enlightened homicides” and not the whole of “homicides committed.” This certainly distorts the results because such banal homicides are usually enlightened, when not subject to immediate arrest in flagrante, while a huge number of hidden crimes is not considered in the statistics.
Thus, in the most mistaken way, the banal crimes between neighbors and relatives with firearms in the hands of the common citizen appear, as great propellants of the death that plagues the country, when this is a huge fallacy.
Another issue concerns “domestic firearms”, which are overexposed in the media, while many other lethal domestic accidents, with a much higher statistical incidence, are disregarded. Finally, SANTOS still presents a supposed OAB “research” that reported that of every 16 cases of reaction to the robbery, 15 of them resulted in death or serious injury to the victims, although armed.
In seeking the data on which such research would have been based with the OAB itself, the author was informed that such “data” were non-existent and that the findings resulted from the examination of some specific Occurrence Bulletins in an insignificant number of thirty cases! That is, as Santos concludes, such “research” certainly was “a fraud”.
Amid an immense disagreement about the best course on arms policy, the most varied self-appointed “specialists”, some warmongers and scandalous, others with a soft voice and preaching peace and love in unviable situations.
The great reality that any honest person can say is that this is a complex question. However, recently, the speech of one of these security “experts” (a philosopher, book writer who mixes simplified and self-help philosophy) was broadcast on social networks.
This individual affirmed, as an unquestionable motive for legitimizing civil disarmament, the fact that we live in a country where there are social rivalries, politics, violence and turbulence. In his view, in public meetings, demonstrations, etc., if the acquisition of firearms and their size were released, there would be uncontrollable killings.
This type of manifestation, honestly, does not contribute to the enlightenment of people, even though it is done by an ignorant absolute in legislation that ends up making statements about the laws of the country that it does not know completely.
On occasion, I had to post a comment that I reproduce in part (author Eduardo Cabette):
My opinion on disarmament is “I do not know.” But, Cortella put her voice to speak nonsense. First of all, where in the world is there no rivalry? In the USA? In Israel? All these places largely allow the use of arms by citizens and have much lower rates of homicide than ours, but have much greater rivalries. There is no comparison at all. Secondly, people were not armed only in all episodes mentioned by the interlocutor (public demonstrations in general) because they did not want to. Access to arms has nothing to do with the Disarmament Statute. Who wants to go out there armed, killing the others, will be armed with firearms anywhere, with or without Statute. Now, it is simple, if the subject is willing or “hungry” to “kill”, what does it mean for him to account for “illegal possession of a weapon”? I argue that who has no idea how a criminal mind works. Finally, if there is liberation of the possession and possession of arms, obviously this will be for people without antecedents etc. And, in addition, armed meetings are prohibited, not by the Disarmament Statute, but by the Federal Constitution (Article 5, XVI). The right of assembly is free, but without arms. Therefore, in none of the cases mentioned by Cortella (popular public demonstrations) would the presence of weapons be allowed, which neither today nor without the Disarmament Statute guarantees that there are no weapons. If people did not take guns in public demonstrations today it was because they did not want to and tomorrow will be so too, enforce any law. And if they do, they will be in constitutional illegality (which is far more important than ordinary law), today or tomorrow, with or without Statute. Releasing the carrying of weapons does not mean that public meetings can have armed people (but the “sage” with the voice of a voice does not know it). Unfortunately people talk about things they do not know and can fool (beyond self-deception) even individuals who have some legal knowledge. The truth is that the manifestation of Cortella was something totally unfounded, presented with shrewdness of security and knowledge, as if it were even a ‘specialist’ in what it said. There was in the video “vivas” and honors the interlocutor with the praise of “sensational”. No, there was nothing “sensational,” there was an utterly ridiculous, legally ignorant demonstration, and that if people thought only a little bit, regardless of whether they were against or in favor of civil disarmament, it should become an icon of national imbecility. “
Well, that is exactly the danger of this debate. The illusionism of the false “experts” who access us from both sides. The above example is only highlighted because recent and really demonstrative of how an assertion without any legal or factual support can be popularly taken as a grand argument in the case against civilian armament; but there are also utterly unreasonable manifestations that border on insanity as regards the presentation of the population’s weapons as a sort of panacea.
Returning to EHRLICH, it is important to bear in mind the following notion:
Worldwide, there is a huge variation in gun ownership rates. Likewise, the proportion of violent crime changes from one country to another. For example, countries like Israel, Finland and Switzerland have high average gun ownership and low violent crime rates, while in many other places the situation is reversed. Overall, there appears to be no correlation between access to arms and the number of violent crimes worldwide. This comes as no surprise given the legal, economic, and cultural differences across the globe.
That is why it is so difficult to establish a safe position on the subject, considering the Brazilian reality in comparison with other countries and cultures. We leave readers with the formation of their own opinion, however, with the critical capacity and access to a bibliography visited here, which contrasts with the practically hegemonic defense of disarmament, as well as with the bibliography that currently defends civil disarmament .
It is important for the formation of an “informed” and “well-formed” opinion to have access to the whole network of arguments in a frank and open debate.