By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – A project in the Brazilian Congress will cancel one of the most important laws aimed at curbing gun violence in the country warn public safety organizations. The project, which seeks to create norms for the acquisition, possession, and circulation of firearms in the country, will start to be discussed on Wednesday by a Special Commission at the Chamber of Deputies.
“It is inconceivable that a law which was created due to a great mobilization by society after three years of intense debates, and has become a model of arms control laws in several countries be threatened in this manner,” stated the open letter sent by several public safety organizations to the Chamber of Deputies last week. The groups ask that the Special Commission reject the project.
Non-governmental safety organizations, however, are uneasy about the Congressional procedures and the possible outcome of the debate.
According to Ivan Marques, executive director of NGO Instituto Sou da Paz the proof that the Commission’s aim is to approve the project without a debate at the end of this legislature is the cancellations of six public hearings which would be conducted throughout the country, substituting them for just one on November 26th in Brasilia.
The executive director, who released a comment on the NGO’s website, also noted that ten of the nineteen members of the Special Commission have ties to the gun industry, including the President and Vice-President.
The disarmament law, passed in 2003 made it illegal to own unregistered firearms. It also increased the minimum age for gun ownership from 21 to 25 years, and called for potential firearms owners to undergo a psychological report and practical exam.
According to Instituto Sou da Paz, a report from the Ministry of Justice showed a reduction by 12 percent in homicides by firearms in Brazil between 2003 and 2006, after years of consecutive increases.