Idiocy Fantasy as Policy

The LA Times has a piece up about Brazil’s doomed-to-failure attempt to curb its astronomical homicide rate by – wait for it…


The LA Times has a registration requirement, but the Tucson Citizen carried the piece. It’s also available in abbreviated form on the Seattle Times site, so I’ve linked to that, but I will include the whole text (as I fisk it) from the Tucson Citizen, including the Citizen’s headlines:

Law’s goal is to disarm gun-heavy Brazilians

By Henry Chu
Los Angeles Times

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — To live in this city and other urban areas of Brazil is to hear the frequent rat-a-tat-tat of gunfire. As many as 20 million firearms are in circulation in this nation of 180 million people, who suffer from one of the highest rates of gun deaths in the world.

Yet according to the UN Small Arms Survey 2003 there are an estimated 238 to 276 million firearms in the United States – nearly a 1:1 parity – and our homicide rate, while quite high, is absolutely eclipsed by Brazil’s. If the number of guns is the problem, the U.S. should have wiped itself out by now, should it not?

Now, under a new law hailed by supporters as the most sweeping gun-control measure in South America, only Brazilians with valid reasons — police and security guards, for example — are allowed to carry firearms in public.

And this will stop the criminals…how?

Ordinary citizens who own guns either must register their weapons, turn them in or face jail time.

And this will affect the criminals…how? I mean, it’s worked so well in England, hasn’t it? Washington D.C., Chicago…

Proponents of the law, which went into effect this month, see it as a badly needed step toward ridding this country of weapons too easily acquired and too often used to kill.

They always do. It never works. But it cannot be an error in the philosophy, only an incorrect implementation of it. They must do it again, only harder!

Critics call it a misguided attempt that will do little to take guns out of the hands of drug dealers and other violent criminals who build their private arsenals through a flourishing illegal arms trade.

Replace “critics” with “realists” and you’d be bang-on. (No pun intended.)

No one, however, disputes the statistics that have made shooting deaths commonplace in Brazil, where officials say someone is killed by a bullet every 12 minutes — more than 40,000 each year.

Pardon the nit-picking, but killed with a bullet. Killed by a PERSON.

By contrast, the United States, which has 100 million more people, recorded about 30,000 gun deaths in 2001, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And here we have our very first “GOTCHA!”

What you have here is a classic example of mixing statistics for maximum shock effect. What Brazil is experiencing is a massive increase in homicide – specifically homicide by firearm, but homicide nonetheless. Yet what the author just did was compare Brazilian homicide to all American deaths by firearm.

According to the CDC, in 2001 (latest data available) there were 29,573 deaths by firearm in the U.S. Of those 29,573, there were 16,869 suicides, leaving 12,704 homicides and legal interventions. Also according to the CDC, in 2002 Brazil suffered 49,570 homicides, of which 34,085 were committed with firearms and 6,728 were committed with sharp objects.

Brazil has a population of about 175 million compared to our population of about 300 million. Their “sharp-object” homicide rate is about equal to our firearm homicide rate. Think on that as we continue.

“In six years, the U.S. lost 56,000 men in Vietnam. We have almost a Vietnam each year in Brazil,” said Antonio Rangel Bandeira of Viva Rio. “I show the figures to people in other places and they say, ‘Which country is Brazil at war against?’ “

If you want to get right down to it, it’s a civil war due to America’s demand for illicit drugs. But by all means, beat that “VIETNAM!” meme for everything it’s worth.

Debate over stricter gun controls echoes that in U.S.

The debate over stricter gun controls in Brazil echoes that in the U.S. Gun-control advocates here find themselves up against a similarly established culture of gun possession, partly born of a romanticized rough-and-tumble frontier past in which cowboys, rebels and vigilantes helped expand the country’s settlements and borders.

Cue “Duelling Banjos” and Clint Eastwood.

The newly tightened rules are the fruits of years of lobbying by gun-control activists, who had been stymied in the past by a powerful domestic firearms industry aided, at times, by the National Rifle Association in the United States. Gun-control advocates credit a new, left-leaning government and growing public anger over crime with shifing the political winds in their favor.

Yes, the NRA, in the pocket of the gun industry, is responsible for all of this murder. You read it here in the LA Times, so it must be true.

Passed by the legislature in December, the law requires background checks for prospective buyers, raises the legal age for gun ownership from 21 to 25, demands that all guns be registered and imposes prison sentences of up to four years for violators.

Again, this will affect the criminals… how? This has worked… where?

This will disarm… whom?

It will disarm the law-abiding – and that is all it will do. It will create a more dependent and less protected population. Nothing else.

Anyone with a criminal record will be denied, but critics note that drug traffickers and organized-crime rings get their stockpiles illegally anyway and thus will not be affected.

Again, replace “critics” with “realists” and you’ll be absolutely correct.

Ask the British.

To encourage owners to hand in their weapons instead of simply registering them

(for future confiscation)

the government has set aside $3.3 million for a buy-back program that offers as much as $100 per firearm – more than a month’s wage and a considerable sum for poor Brazilians.

Or, conversely, a drop in the pot to drug smugglers. And how many poor Brazilians have a firearm to sell? I mean, most firearms sell used for more than $100, and when the black market really gets started, what’ll they be worth? Want to bet we’ll see police and military armories getting jacked?

Perhaps most significant, the law calls for a national referendum next year asking voters whether gun sales should be banned.

And, again, this will affect the criminals… how?

Polls show strong public support for such a move.

Well, considering how many poor Brazilians there apparently are, perhaps they believe “If I can’t buy one, you can’t either.”

That dismays Renato Conill, vice president of Forjas Taurus. The company is one of Brazil’s largest gun manufacturers, with annual revenue exceeding $40 million through domestic sales and exports to more than 80 countries.

That would be the “evil bloodsucking” company. Guess the editors clipped that part though.

“We don’t believe that by restricting honest citizens’ access to legal firearms the crime rate will lessen,” Conill said. “Legal weapons aren’t a cause of crime. …The disarmament law will simply stimulate the black market.”

Said the man who actually grasps the lessons of history.

Before, buying a gun in Brazil was an easy affair. A customer had only to show identification and produce proof of employment to be eligible. Now, potential buyers are subject to more rigorous background checks.

Yes, I’m sure that puts a severe crimp on how drug lords arm their armies.

I can’t wait to see them try to explain why the homicide rates don’t go down.

But here’s an easy explanation: The guns aren’t the problem. The drug trade is. Throwing $3.3 million at the gun problem is a complete waste of $3.3 million.

The government’s corrupted by drug money.

Law enforcement is corrupted by drug money.

And now the honest people are going to be disarmed and handed on a platter to the predators.

Way to go, Brazil!

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