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Brazil Gun Prohibition Referendum:

Brazilian voters today will decide whether to prohibit the commercial sale or manufacture of all firearms and ammunition, except for police and military use. Polling stations, which use computer voting, close at 5 p.m. First results are expected around 8 p.m., and final results around midnight. Brazil's President Lula has strongly supported gun prohibition, and pushed it through the legislature, only to have the Brazilian Supreme Court declare the prohibition unconstitutional. Lula has also proposed a United Nations tax on ammunition to pay for "development" (that is, a UN-sponsored transfer of money to corrupt governments such as his).

Various polls showed the referendum with as high as 76-83% approval months ago. But a superb campaign, lead by “Vote Não” has educated the public about the dangers of gun prohibition--including the fact that citizens would be defenseless against criminals (who will keep their guns no matter what the law says) and against totalitarian government.

The latest polls show the referndum failing by a 10-18% margin, and Lula is now distancing himself from the referendum.

The referendum was strongly supported by the international gun prohibition movement, which mobilized scores of celebrities and other notables to campaign for the referendum. The prohibitionists made no secret of their plan to use Brazil as a springboard for prohibition in other countries--starting with the rest of Latin America, and South Africa.

Even with a "Não" vote, Brazil's gun laws will remain extremely repressive, as they are deliberately designed to make gun licensing unaffordable to poor people.

Still, a victory for self-defense and civil liberties advocates in Brazil would be a stunning repudiation of the international gun prohibition movement. Although the Brazilian vote has received only a little attention in the United States, its long-term significance for the survival of the Second Amendment is enormous. It would be difficult, and perhaps impossible, for a robust Second Amendment to survive in the United States if the prohibition movement achieved its goals in the rest of the world.

A law student or other scholar who can read Portuguese could write a very interesting and important article on the subject of Brazilian gun laws and the recent campaign for prohibition.



UPDATE: With 71% of polling places reporting, the "Não" votes are ahead 65%-35%. If no vote stays over 60%--a landslide--the damage to the international gun prohibition movement will be especially severe.

The overwhelming public rejection of disarming innocent citizens may be playing an important role in the development of rights consciousness in Brazil. Consider this comment from an American working for a Brazlian gun prohibition group:

“Their whole campaign (against the ban) was imported from the United States. They just translated a lot of material from the NRA. Now, a lot of Brazilians are insisting on their right to bear arms, they don’t even have a pseudo right to bear arms. It’s not in their Constitution,” said Jessica Galeria, an American who researches gun violence with the Viva Rio think tank.
It's true that Brazil--unlike the United States, Guatemala, or Mexico--does not have an explicit constitutional right to arms. But various provisions of the Brazilian Constitution imply the right to possess the means to defend oneself. For example, Article 5, section 11 states:

the home is the inviolable asylum of the individual, and no one may enter it without the dweller's consent, save in the case of "flagrante delicto" or disaster, or to give help, or, during the day, by court order;

Note that the above provision is limited not limited to "state action." The right to exclude burglars from the home is just as strong as the right to exclude rogue police.

More generally, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes a right to forcibly resist tyranny (a purpose of arms-bearing which was repeatedly stated in the "Vote Não" campaign).

And the natural right of self-defense is one of the foundations of the Western and Catholic traditions of natural law--recognized by Thomas Aquinas and by the current Catechism of the Catholic Church (see, e.g., sections 2263-65). Surely the long Catholic tradition of the legitimacy of forcible self-defense is of some relevance in the rights-consciousness of an overwhelmingly Catholic nation. (I realize, of course, that Brazilian Bishops urged a "yes" vote on the referendum; the majority of the laity obviously disagreed with them, as the laity has every right to do, according to Catholic doctrine, in prudential matters of public affairs). Perhaps the referendum will encourage a future Brazilian government to recognize the obviously strong respect that Brazilians have for the right of self-defense, and to amend the Constitution to provide more explicit protections against the invasions of natural rights that might be attempted should a Lula-type ruler gain power some day in the future.

MORE UPDATE: With 75% of the vote counted, Reuters has called the election for "Não," and the prohibitionists have conceded.

ANOTHER UPDATE: With 92% of the vote in, the results are 64% to 36%. For those of you who read Portugeuse, two articles I've written, which have been translated into Portuguese, are available here.

moonfall:
It would be difficult, and perhaps impossible, for a robust Second Amendment to survive in the United States if the prohibition movement achieved its goals in the rest of the world.


Why?
10.23.2005 7:16pm
bobbie:
If the measure passes, it would be an interesting expirement to see is there's any correlation between the gun prohibition and the crime rate.
10.23.2005 7:33pm
RS (mail):
Se eu só tivesse mais tempo . . .
10.23.2005 7:48pm
ChrisO (mail):
"criminals (who will keep their guns no matter what the law says)"

It would seem the point of the law would be to make it harder for criminals to obtain guns, and easier for police to arrest criminals with guns.

The worst gun legislation is the 'moderate' sort - where guns are still availble, but hard to get.
10.23.2005 7:54pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
bobbie

If it does, I would esp. look at the incidence of, for example, burglary. The seizing of most of the guns in private hands in England has apparently resulted in a significant increase in nighttime home invasions. Most burglaries here are daytime, since this sort of criminal doesn't want to get shot. Not so across the Pond.
10.23.2005 7:57pm
ANM (mail):
The Economist had a stridently pro-ban article here: Protecting citizens from themselves.
"The effect was not to disarm criminals but to take guns away from ordinary people who kill on impulse, the commonest sort of murder."
Sounds like some of the Brazilians are just not civilized enough to have guns. Or at least the poor ones.

I respect the 2nd amendment, but would you really want everyone in your city travelling armed? There are certain people who just should not be armed, in addition to just excons, lest they endanger society. The problem lies in determining just who that is.
10.23.2005 8:17pm
juris imprudent (mail):
"The effect was not to disarm criminals but to take guns away from ordinary people who kill on impulse, the commonest sort of murder."

I would take that line with a full shaker full of salt. It's been said about the U.S. as well, and here at least, it is not anywhere NEAR the truth.

Sounds like some of the Brazilians are just not civilized enough to have guns.

Yes, those dark-skinned people really need enlightened whites deciding what is best for them, don't they. [/sarcasm]

The problem lies in determining just who that is.

Actually, the bigger problem lies in granting the power to pass such a judgement, for that power will invariably be misused just as it was in Britain.
10.23.2005 8:25pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Has Kopel seen "City of God"? Have any of the commenters? I really think this is one of those situations where something that would be a very bad idea (and unconstitutional) in the United States may not be such a bad idea in Brazil. Whole sections of Rio de Janeiro are literally controlled by armed gangs. There is no policing. And the poverty is extreme, so organized crime is the only way "out" (if you can call it that) for many slum youths.

We don't have anything remotely comparable in this country. And we shouldn't assume that just because a robust Second Amendment is a very good thing in this country (which it is) that it would be a very good thing for Brazil.

Also, Kopel's characterization of development aid as going to "corrupt government's such as" Lula Da Silva's is uninformed and offensive. As Latin American governments go, Lula's is no more corrupt than most of them, and is probably less corrupt. Does Kopel have any evidence of Lula's supposed corruption, or is he just assuming that Lula must be corrupt because he leads a third world country and/or he opposes the right to bear arms?
10.23.2005 8:33pm
Tom Tildrum:
It strikes me that if there is already little policing of the gangs, there may be little political will to strip the gangs of their guns. Thus, there is perhaps some risk that the Brazilian gun ban would be ineffective as to the gangs, and would succeed only in denying guns to those who abide by the law.
10.23.2005 8:46pm
gr (www):
The interesting part is how Brazil can have a national electronic voting system that makes us look like a banana republic.
10.23.2005 9:06pm
Fernando Cima (mail):
With 95% of the precincts reporting, it is now official - 64% of the population voted against the ban. Congratulations to my fellow citizens, this was way above everyone (including me) expected.

I didn't know the material of the "No" campaign came from the NRA. If it is indeed true, thanks NRA! The campaign was superbly run.

I take issue with the "City of God" comment. CoG does present a good portrait of the violent suburbs of Rio, but does not represent at all what goes on across the country. It is like saying that "Colors" presents a good picture of America. Brazil is a country as or more diverse than US, and in a sense this comment shows how little information americans really have about Brazil.

Lula is incredibly corrupt, and I can't imagine any other latin american country with the magnitude of corruption that Lula's Workers Party is engaged. The congressional investigation going has showed an horrific picture of an organized assault against the state, and Lula is avoing any press contact for four months going on because he cannot deny not knowing what their cronies in the party were doing.
10.23.2005 9:13pm
Proud Generation Y Slacker:
"I respect the 2nd amendment, but would you really want everyone in your city travelling armed?"

Yes. I even think people should be required to be armed, but it is a free country.
10.23.2005 9:13pm
Adam (mail):
Dilan Esper:

Even assuming the worst about the slums of Rio, what makes you think that a de jure ban would improve the situation, or that the situation would be easier (for the police, say) to improve with a de jure ban.
10.23.2005 9:32pm
countertop (mail):
May all the gun banning bigots - domestic and foreign - forever hang their heads in shame for perpetrating and promoting their failed and harmful ideology that accomplishes nothing but the deaths of unarmed peoples across the globe.

It would seem the point of the law would be to make it harder for criminals to obtain guns, and easier for police to arrest criminals with guns.

Guns have been manufactured for hundreds of years. They are very simply machines that ANYONE with even the most rudimentary machine shop can produce rather easily. Why anyone - let alone someone who claims even a modicum of intelligence - would continue to believe the perpetual lies and half truths the gun banning bigots (who NEVER tell the truth) peddle simply shocks me.
10.23.2005 9:34pm
Glenn W Bowen (mail):
chris0-

the law would make anyone with a gun a... criminal. it's already very difficult to obtain a firearm in Brasil, yet they have a huge problem with gun violence, probably perpetrated by... criminals.

I live in NYC where the gun laws purposely keep firearms out of the hands of our many swarthier citizens by placing a prohibitive licensing fee and complicated&lengthy process between the buyer and ownership.

What an irresponsible person's behavior with a firearm has to do with my right to own one has always escaped me.

"The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed--where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees-- however improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once."

Circuit Judge Kozinski/Silveira dissent

Our mayor responds occasionally by saying, "Guns kill people!".
10.23.2005 9:41pm
Jordan:
Here's an excerpt from a good post about the futility of such a ban from Daily Pundit:


Tough new anti-gun legislation comes into force in Brazil on Wednesday, in a bid to curb what the UN says is the world's fourth-highest murder rate.

Under the new rules, anyone carrying a gun without a licence will face a prison sentence.

Permits will be issued only to police, security guards and others in high-risk professions - but they must be at least 25 years old.

Anyone else caught carrying a firearm will face up to four years in prison.


This article from the BBC, the same source as the first article, above, is dated September 22. 2004. In other words, for the past year, it has been illegal for anybody not a policeman, security guard, or somebody in a high risk profession over 25 years old to carry a gun outside their home. And yet the carnage was not reduced by one whit. And why would it be? Criminals do not obey laws.


Read the whole thing.
10.23.2005 9:46pm
Fernando Cima (mail):
The BBC article is misleading. By the text of the law, *ownership* of firearms are permitted to anyone that can show to have a "legitimate need" - in practice it covers a broad range of scenarios. This is what was questioned in today's referendum, and those who wanted a broad prohibition of ownership lost badly.

The permission to *carry* a firearm is a different beast, and is indeed restricted to police, security guards and other very restricted professions. Carrying a gun without a license is indeed a crime facing prison sentence.
10.23.2005 10:22pm
GOnzo (mail):
I love that the people of Brazil have come into a new consciousness of the right to keep and bear arms.

For myself, I've always thought of this as a natural right. Arms exist, and evil actors will gain access and use them. They will not agree to surrender such use. Ergo, the right to bear such arms in defense of home and hearth must also exist.

Saying "well, gee their constitution doesn't say anything about arms" does not answer this analysis. A constitution which failed to recognize the right not to be oppressed or killed for religious or ethinic reasons is a defective document. It does not mean that the right does not exist, because surely it does even without words in a constitution. Rather, the constitution itself is deficient in failing to protect that right.
10.23.2005 10:38pm
Ripclawe (mail) (www):
Just wanted to point out that Jessica Galeria is actually the IANSA Regional Coordinator in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, not just a researcher working with viva rio. AP somehow missed that.

IANSA

Google Search on Jessica.
10.23.2005 10:58pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
The right of the people to have abortions shall not be infringed..Thats not in the constitution but its the de facto law of the land. The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed..is in the constitution..what part of "infringed" do they not understand..or maybe the founders meant to protect the right to keep and arm Bears, and just got the wording mixed up.
10.23.2005 11:16pm
ANM (mail):
"Yes, those dark-skinned people really need enlightened whites deciding what is best for them, don't they. "
You were sarcastic, but here in good old U.S. of A, the darker the race the higher the crime rate. Ignoring it does not make it not so. http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/homicide/race.htm Note: The white crime rate is somewhat lower than that, as hispanics are considered whites.

"Yes. I even think people should be required to be armed, but it is a free country."
Wouldn't you be scared to honk? To cut off someone in traffic?
10.24.2005 12:30am
Flash Gordon (mail):
There must some psychological need on the part of those who refuse to face the reality that bad guys will always have guns no matter what the gun laws are. Gun restrictions actually empower the bad guys and make the law-abiding more vulnerable to violence. Why is that simple truth so hard for some to understand?

All the evidence needed is plain to see everywhere strict gun controls are in place. The most striking evidence to be seen is where guns have been available and then restricted. Crime soars. Is that what gun control advocates want?
10.24.2005 1:27am
Andy Freeman (mail):
> Wouldn't you be scared to honk? To cut off someone in traffic?

My risk wrt people who won't obey a gun control law is, by definition, unaffected, so the above implies that I should be concerned about people who'd obey a gun control law. Why should I?
10.24.2005 1:28am
Proud Generation Y Slacker:
"Yes. I even think people should be required to be armed, but it is a free country."
Wouldn't you be scared to honk? To cut off someone in traffic?


Yeah, most people would shoot each other over any excuse, don't you think? How noble is man, and all that jazz.

On the other hand, accepting the assumptions of your glib remark, what would be so bad about no more cutting people off in traffic or needless honking? New York City has one of the lowest firearm ownership rates in the country, and has one of the highest needless honking rates in the country. Coincidence? I think not.
10.24.2005 3:52am
BrazCath (mail):
The gun ban proposal was defeated in ALL states of the Brazilian Federation and in the Federal District (our "DC").

But what do you think that the "yes" campaigners are now saying??? They're saying that our draconian "gun control law" is actually quite good and remains in place.

ALL major political parties, ALL important media outlets, ALL "intellectuals", ALL "university professors", ALL artists and media "personalities", the government, the liberal Bishops' Conference, and, last but not least, the United Nations, and liberal "non governmental organizations", financed by the UN, the EU, and the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations: ALL campaigned for YEARS for this Gun Ban proposal. But the people has defeated them, overwhelmingly.

Their answer? "We don't give a damn"

The people's answer? We are fed up with these "politically correct" measures! FED UP!!!!
10.24.2005 8:33am
Mr L (mail):
"Wouldn't you be scared to honk? To cut off someone in traffic?"

If the possibility of some random psycho being behind the wheel is great enough to give pause in traffic, then I'd suppose that there's enough crazies in circulation to make the nightmare scenario of one of them getting behind the wheel of the country and trying to send everyone off to camps a real possibility.

Why do the gun banners always assume that the streets are clogged with people who can't handle the resposibility a firearm provides, while government officials infallibly can?
10.24.2005 8:40am
J..:

It's true that Brazil--unlike the United States, Guatemala, or Mexico--does not have an explicit constitutional right to arms. But various provisions of the Brazilian Constitution imply the right to possess the means to defend oneself. For example, Article 5, section 11 states:

the home is the inviolable asylum of the individual, and no one may enter it without the dweller's consent, save in the case of "flagrante delicto" or disaster, or to give help, or, during the day, by court order;

I'm having a difficult time trying to distinguish a how a reading of this constitutional provision that leads to a "right" to arms is different in kind than, e.g., Roe v Wade? Why isn't this just the same jurisprudential technique applied to get results that a conservative might like?

Now, this is unfair -- I'm assuming that David both is for gun rights and a "conservative" jurisprudence. In otherwords, I'm assuming that this argument also attempts to fit into the same "no legislativing from the bench" argument.

But, in all events, this is really an expansive vision of constitutional law. So far, this is in many ways no different from arguing (e.g.) that the US constitution has a right to welfare embedded in it.
10.24.2005 9:30am
BrazCath (mail):
It is ABSOLUTELY different from Roe v. Wade. If the historical understanding of the inviolability of the home has always included, since colonial days, the right to at least have a gun and keep it at home (or at your workplace -- the Brazilian definition of home includes the place of residence as well as the workplace) is the consequence of an originalist reading of the Brazilian Federal Constitution.

It is no coincidence, by the way, that the leading legal assistant of the Pro-Ban "YES" Campaign was Professor Luis Roberto Barroso, the SAME lawyer, financed by the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, who is arguing a Roe-style measure in the Brazilian Supreme Court, mirroring the exact same strategy pushed by American Liberals in the early 1970s, since the Brazilian people would NEVER accept abortion through the democratic process.
10.24.2005 9:46am
BrazCath (mail):
Correction: since this right has always been mentioned in Brazilian Constitutions and it has always been understood, since colonial days, as including all reasonable means for self-defense, it is obvious that there is no "revisionist" reading of the Brazilian Federal Constitution in what the blogger wrote.

Bear in mind that the Gun Ban proposal would have banned ALL legal sale of firearms to almost every citizen. That is, ot was not simply a "right to bear arms" referendum, but a "right to own arms", even if only to keep it at home (residence and workplace), to protect oneself, one's family, and one's livelihood.

If that were not enough, the Brazilian Federal Constitution also, mirrorring the American mention of "a well organized Militia", expressly mentions, in its Title on the Defense of Democratic Institutions, that "Public security" is a " responsibility of all" ..."to preserve public order and the safety of persons and property" (See here, article 144).
10.24.2005 9:56am
J..:
Where did the post above discuss the original intent of that section of the Brazillian constitution? I saw a section of a constitution and a brief discussion of a generalized concept of liberty and a paragraph on, among other things, Aquinas. Was the discussion on Aquinas meant to refer to an origialist understanding? If so, wasn't that notion of origialism rejected in the US years ago -- which is why the present notion of originalism is supposed to be more nuanced?

I've no doubt that an origialist understanding of such a right may exist but where do you think it was presented in the above? If it wasn't then aren't you just arguing that "well, sure the above didn't say it, but a real 'conservative' (or whatever) argument could be made." In other words, you'd be just conceeding my point and moving past it to say that there are better arguments out there.
10.24.2005 10:00am
BrazCath (mail):
He said that the text on the "inviolability of the home" includes a "right to firearms", at least in some level. The mention of Aquinas was relevant, since his argument was a plain development of Natural Law, but that does not deny that the "inviolability of the home" does include the right to arms -- as I think was correctly presented, even if superficially, by the blogger (who is not a Brazilian lawyer and is under no obligation to present deeper arguments, which is why I did). They are parallel, not contradictory, arguments.
10.24.2005 10:07am
juris imprudent (mail):
ANM wrote: Wouldn't you be scared to honk? To cut off someone in traffic?

I'm always amused at how people portray the impulse control of other people. Tell us ANM, if you were armed and cut off in traffic would you just start shooting? We've heard this line of 'reasoning' every time a state has gone to shall-issue CCW: oh, people will shoot each other over parking places; blood will flow in the streets. Well? We're still waiting.

I suppose if you have so little faith in your fellow citizens it should come as no surprise that so much faith should be placed an all-powerful, beneficent govt.
10.24.2005 1:27pm
Robert Lyman (mail):
Anyone in the habit of cutting people off in traffic ought to know their risk of a fatal accident is far higher than their risk of getting shot. So yes, I'm already "afraid" to cut people off, out of a desire to avoid a wreck.

On the question of impulse control, 1) anyone I cut off or honk at is in control of a 2000 lb (or heavier) murder weapon. So far, no one has attacked me with it. 2) Like all married couples, my wife and I sometimes disagree noisily. Yet despite this occasional anger, neither of us has ever shot at the other with the guns we keep handy for self-defense. Or stabbed the other with our excellent set of German kitchen knives. Or clobbered the other with a claw hammer. Or hacked the other with a hatchet. Etc.

I do not see why anyone should assume that mere possession of a gun should turn a sensible person, who after all has many opportunities to kill with alternative weapons on a daily basis, into a murderer.

Besides, have you ever tried to shoot from behind the wheel? That would be a seriously hard shot to make.
10.24.2005 1:50pm
OneEyedMan (mail) (www):
“You have no idea how much it contributes to the general politeness and pleasantness of diplomacy when you have a little quiet armed force in the background,” George F. Kennan
Maybe that's a reason that everyone always seems so polite in the Samuri and Western movies.
10.24.2005 2:40pm
Steph (mail):
I have a quick round up on this at my blog.
victory for human rights
10.24.2005 3:24pm
Steph (mail):
I have a quick round up on this at my blog.
victory for human rights
10.24.2005 3:26pm
Ken Willis (mail):
Those who worry that if law abiding citizens have guns every fender bender will turn into a shootout might be projecting their own emotional instability onto others.
10.24.2005 5:16pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
To answer some of the comments directed to my original comment, I have no idea whether or not recognition of a right to bear arms is a good idea for Brazil. I simply know that we can't extrapolate arguments based on the experience of the United States in answering that question. Brazil is a very different situation.

And no, "City of God" is not simply a slightly more extreme version of "Colors". I have never been to Rio, but I have spent time in Lima, Peru. There are shantytowns in Lima, called the "pueblos jovenes" (meaning "young towns"), where there is little law enforcement, extreme violence, and extreme poverty. And I have no idea what the best form of governance for such areas is. I know this-- I wouldn't presume to sit here in the comfortable confines of Los Angeles and talk out of my posterior about what would work down there. People are simply living in a different universe in these places.

What I would advise some of the commenters, and Mr. Kopel, is that these decisions are properly for the Brazilians to make. If they voted "no", fine, that is their right. It is also their right to vote "yes". But those Brazilians know a heck of a lot about that situation and have every right to try to solve their extreme problems. In contrast, I doubt that Mr. Kopel or most of the commenters have any idea what might solve the problems in the slums of Brazil, other than an ideological commitment that one must never, ever, impinge on the right to bear arms.

A bit more humility about intractable problems, completely different from those in the United States, that Brazil is attempting to solve through democratic means is very much in order here.
10.24.2005 5:22pm
Robert Lyman (mail):
Dilan,

You're right that Brazil isn't the US, and that I, personally (and most commenters) don't really know what will work down there. I think the effect of gun ownership on society is highly dependant on culture; a culture in which duels are common probably requires different policies than one in which lawsuits are common.

But then, the odds that the UN and its international gun-banning affiliate IANSA are dramatically better informed and, after careful consideration, concluded that Brazil's problems are best solved by the exact same solution they're pushing on the US and every other country in the world are rather long. So I don't feel too guilty imposing my ideological predilections given that my domestic and international political opponents are already doing so.
10.24.2005 5:47pm
BrazCath (mail):
That's a pretty interesting comment, Mr. Lyman, considering that not far from Los Angeles (and in L.A. itself?) there are areas which are almost police-free, and where drugs, illegal immigrants, and war-style guns come and go as they please...

This is a matter about human rights, one of the most basic human rights at that: the right to self-defense.
10.25.2005 7:01am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
BrazCath:

I live in Los Angeles. There are NO areas that are "almost police-free". The least safe parts of town are far, far safer than the Rio slums portrayed in "City of God", which are much more comparable to the shantytowns of Lima and other third world cities than anything in Los Angeles. There is also far less police brutality and corruption, and, even in the areas with substantial gang presence, far fewer illegal weapons.

Really, we speak of major American cities as unsafe, but the conditions are nowhere near what is routine in the third world.

And simply saying that the right to self-defense is a basic human right both misstates and begs the question. It misstates the question because the right to self-defense is different than the right to use any particular weapon to defend onesself (after all, nobody contests Brazil's right to prohibit possession of weapons of mass destruction, even for self-defense purposes) and it begs the question because the real issue is whether a right that is well-established and important in our society fully translates to their very different society.
10.25.2005 3:56pm
Robert Lyman (mail):
the right to self-defense is different than the right to use any particular weapon to defend onesself

Well, a right isn't meaningful if you are denied effective means to exercise it. In a world of blogs and laser printers, "freedom of the press" can't possibly mean only moveable type and hand-operated presses such as Ben Franklin knew. Saying "you have a perfect right to defend yourself from machine-gun weilding thugs with your fists" is a pretty stupid statement.

Which is not to say that I have all the answers for Brazil.
10.25.2005 5:10pm
Jason Jonas (mail):
Well, it seems the London Tube shooting didn't sway Charles de Menezes' countrypersons into any rash action.

Which reminds me...

Q. Why did Paris Hilton decide not to live in London?

A. Because she heard that in London, they finish off Brazilians with gunshots to the head.
10.26.2005 1:50am
Tom R (mail):
And when George W Bush was told by his advisors that 72 million Brazilian voters opposed gun control, his first question was...
10.26.2005 2:00am