Easy Access to Firearms Returns to Center of Debate in United States

31 Deaths in Two Sniper Attacks in a Few Hours Increases Pressure for Congress to Change the Law

National Journal, Brazil
August 6, 2019

[Translation by Google. Probably Imperfect.] The ease of buying a firearm has returned to the center of debate in the United States. The 31 deaths in two attacks over the weekend increased pressure for Congress to change legislation.

August 3rd, El Paso, Texas. One killer opens fire in a hypermarket and kills 22 people. On the internet, he left a racist manifesto.

August Fourth, Dayton, Ohio. A criminal kills nine people at the door of a bar, including his own sister. Police are still investigating the cause of the massacre.

Names change, so do motivations. But both cases have one thing in common: the killers used weapons sold legally in the United States. This year alone, there were more than 250 gunfire attacks in the country with at least four victims.

The United States is the country with the most weapons in the hands of civilians. It has more weapons than people – it is almost 400 million for a population of 326 million.

Among developed countries, Canada is a distant second with a weapon for every three inhabitants. In France and Germany, the proportion drops to one weapon for every five people. Brazil appears in 97th – one in 12 Brazilians is armed.

Professor Jeffrey Butts of John Jay University of Criminal Justice says several studies show that those with guns are at greater risk of becoming victims of guns.

“People are less safe with a gun at home, and nothing changes in the United States because politicians only offer condolences and prayers, but they don’t act to change the laws,” he said.

A Harvard University study showed that in states where there are more weapons, attacks are almost seven times more frequent than in states where the population is less armed. That is, the more weapons, the more violent crimes.

Other research from Stanford University in California looked at changes in state gun ownership laws for nearly 40 years.

In the nine states where restrictions on possession increased, there was a more than 40 percent drop in violent crime. In states that liberated arms, the fall was only 4%.

“The big question is the gun is always an instrument that facilitates a committing a homicide or a suicide. We always need to be very aware and clear of what we are doing authorizing the population to have an instrument that is made to kill, “says Renato Sérgio de Lima, president of the National Security Forum.

In Brazil, a recent Datafolha survey showed that 66% of adult Brazilians feel that gun ownership should be prohibited.

“The challenge is to control, the state can not give up to control. If not for what there is the state? Why do we pay taxes?”, Adds Renato.