mais armas, mais corpos
Aumento de assassinatos está diretamente ligado ao número de armas

More weapons, more bodies

There is no need to be an expert to conclude that the two boys who carried out a massacre at the Raul Brasil school in Suzano in March 2019 were psychopaths. And the reasons that led them to commit atrocity will result in endless discussions: family breakdown, bullying, influence of video games that encourage violence, internet discussion forum (deep web) that encourage hate speech, mental disorder, nature … The answer it will run through the fingers of anyone trying to find a definitive explanation. But the most tangible point in the tragedy – and one that deserves serious and deep reflection – is how easy access to firearms can make episodes like Wednesday’s (13) more and more frequent in Brazil.

American routine

Cases of young people who break into schools to promote mass execution are common in the United States, and more and more frequent. Last year, there were 25 shootings, which left 113 fatalities, in the country ruled by Donald Trump. The number of bloody episodes was higher in the first 18 years of this century than in the entire 20th century. The most emblematic of all was the one that occurred in 1999, in the city of Columbine , which left 13 people (12 students and a teacher) dead and another 21 gunshot wounds.

This attack inspired other events in Brazil: in addition to this one in Suzano, also another one in Realengo, in 2011 (12 deaths), and one in Goiânia, in 2017 (two deaths).

Access to weapons

The number and lethality of these attacks are directly linked to the level of ease of access to firearms. “These cases are much more common and frequent in the United States, almost weekly, due to the simple fact that access to firearms is much greater”, argues Bruno Langeani, a specialist in public security at the Sou da Paz Institute . The executive director of the Brazilian Public Security Forum, Samira Bueno, reinforces: “The fact that only one has a revolver shows the difficulty they [Suzano’s assassins] had in accessing weapons. So much so that they needed to find alternative solutions ”, he argues, referring to the hatchet and the beast used in the massacre. “The account is very simple: the more weapons, the more homicides”, he completes.

Public security experts fear precisely the increase in cases of this nature, with the entry into force of the presidential decree that facilitates the possession of weapons. A study by the Institute for Applied Economic Research (Ipea) magnifies the problem: the 1% increase in legal firearms raises the homicide rate by up to 2%.

Even before the decree signed by Jair Bolsonaro, the number of weapons registered in Brazil had been increasing year after year. In 2007, 3,901 new weapons were registered for individuals; in 2017, there were 33,031 – an increase of 744.7% in a decade. As of the end of last year, there were 328,893 legally registered weapons. The data, from the Federal Police, were obtained by the Sou da Paz Institute, through the Access to Information Law (LAI).

However, the National Security Forum estimates that there are 8.6 million illegal weapons in Brazil. If the situation is already worrying, the tendency is to get worse. The entity’s experts warn that the number of legal weapons is expected to triple in four years – and that of illegal weapons, too.

It could have been worse

The tragedy at the Ramos Brasil school could be much worse if Brazilian legislation on the purchase of weapons was as permissible as that of the United States. Matheus Henrique Castro, 25 years old, fulfilled all the requirements to be able to own weapons (over 21 years old, with no criminal record or history of mental disorder, etc.), including greater offensive power, such as rifles and machine guns.

Record of murders

Brazil is one of the most violent countries in the world, with homicide numbers much higher than those recorded in wars. The Atlas of Violence 2018, a document produced by the Institute for Applied Economic Research (Ipea) reveals that 551 thousand people were murdered between 2006 and 2016. In 2016, the number of homicides hit a record: 62,517, an index of 30.3 for each 100 thousand inhabitants. 30 times the homicide rate in Europe.

The study also shows that 71% of murders were committed with firearms. And among these, about 30% of these homicides were not related to crimes against property, but had interpersonal motivations: the husband who killed his wife, a neighbor who shot the other, a traffic fight… “It is the person who he loses his head ”, summarizes Daniel Cerqueira, one of the survey coordinators.

“There is a consensus, among national and international researchers, that more weapons means more deaths. A gun inside the house conspires against the family’s safety. The chance of a homicide or suicide occurring increases fivefold. The more weapons people have, the more weapons are stolen and lost. They will fall into the wrong hand, in the illegal market ”, he warns.

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