In December, 2018, in an article published by the Wall Street Journal, this pronouncement was made. From the wsj.com:
Now, Brazil is set to embark on an experiment that will determine what happens when you loosen gun restrictions in a country battling an overpowering wave of gun crime.
Homicides in Brazil were at historic highs in 2017. They dropped a bit in 2018, as candidate Bolsonaro ran on reform of the gun laws to allow self-defense, and reform of the law to get tough on crime. The homicide numbers dropped from 59,000 in 2017, to 51,000 in 2018. President Bolsonaro was elected in October of 2018.
After taking office on 1 January 2019, President Bolsonaro issued his first decree reforming some of Brazil’s extreme gun laws on 15 January 2019. The drop in Brazil’s homicide rate accelerated.
Gun control in Brazil has a long history. By 1997, restrictions on gun ownership were deemed as “severe” by the Wall Street Journal. From the wsj.com:
In Brazil’s violent cities, where 90% of the murders are committed with guns, ownership restrictions have become so severe that Taurus has branched out into motorcycle helmets, bulletproof vests, and auto parts.
Brazil’s 1997 law, which requires gun owners to have unblemished police records and pass rigorous psychological and shooting-proficiency tests, has slashed Taurus’s sales to private individuals by more than 80% in the past two years, Mr. Murgel says. Taurus has sought to make up for that with an aggressive push into motorcycle helmets and increased gun sales in the U.S., where Taurus’s advertising spending is up threefold this year.
Early in the Bolsonaro presidency, a Brazilian lawyer predicted the homicide rate would drop. From ammoland.com:
César Mello, asked that I include information that early reports are showing a 25% drop in Brazil’s homicide rate, in the first quarter of 2019. If this trend continues, 16,000 lives will have been saved in the first year of President Bolsonaro’s time in office.
The rate reduction was not quite that high. Only 10,000 lives were saved. From wtop.com:
Brazil had 41,635 killings in 2019, down 19% from the prior year and the least number of homicides since 2007, when the so-called Violence Monitor index was launched. It is a partnership between the non-profit Brazilian Forum of Public Security, the University of Sao Paulo’s Center for the Study of Violence, and news website G1, which published the data Friday.
“IN OUR GOVERNMENT HOMICIDES, VIOLENCE AND FALLACIES FALL!” an exultant Bolsonaro wrote on his Twitter account, sharing the G1 news report. “Our government extends a strong embrace to all the security agents of the country. Brazil continues on the right path.”
When translated to homicide rates, the rate dropped 17% in 2018, then 23% more in 2019. The population of Brazil in 2019 was 210 million. The rate of homicides per 100,000 was 19.83. That is less than 2/3 of the homicide rate in 2017, which was 30.8.
Brazil has not had a homicide rate this low since 1995, before the highly restrictive gun law of 1997 was passed.
When the NYTs did an article on the reform of Brazil’s gun laws during the Bolsonaro administration, somehow, the reduction in the Brazilian homicide rate was not included. The article was published on 31 March, 2020. From the nytimes.com:
During Mr. Bolsonaro’s first year in office, the government issued more than 200,000 licenses to gun owners. The federal police, which issues licenses for self-defense, approved 54,300 permits in 2019, a 98 percent increase from the previous year. The army, which grants permits to hunters and collectors, issued more than 147,800 new licenses in 2019, a 68 percent increase.
The only mention of homicides in the NYTs article is this:
In Brazil, a country of more than 209 million that has one of the highest homicide rates in the world, the right to bear arms is not a constitutional guarantee, as it is in the United States. The gun rights movement has long been on the losing side of policy debates.
Will the Brazilian homicide rate continue to drop? We will find out over the course of the next few years. Leftist academics are already finding excuses as to why the reform of Brazilian gun laws made no difference.
They had predicted homicides would rise as the reforms were implemented.
They were wrong.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.