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Brazil votes to keep gun sales legal in historic first referendum

[JURIST] Brazil, the country with the world's highest death rate from firearms [Independent report], Sunday firmly rejected a ban on gun and ammunition sales in its first national referendum. Initial pre-referendum surveys had indicated a favorable view of the ban, but an anti-ban advertising blitz in the run-up to the vote appears to have turned the tide. With 75% of votes reported, 64% of voters favored keeping arms sales legal ["No" website, in Portugese], while only 35% were opposed ["Yes" website, in Portuguese]. Some citizens believed a gun ban would increase corruption, while others argued that firearms did not give any protection to ordinary citizens. Most of the violence in Brazil stems from drug traffickers, who virtually control the streets. Some 36,000 gun deaths were reported in Brazil in 2004 as compared to 30,000 in the US, a country with a third more population. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva [Wikipedia profile] voted in favor of the firearms ban. Gun control laws passed in 2003 decreased gun sales to civilians by 80 percent [Reuters article] but did not significantly reduce the number of deaths from firearms. Agencia Brasil has a breakdown of the latest referendum results by region [in Portuguese]. Many political observers welcomed the vote, regardless of the result, as a recognition of democratic popular sovereignty. Reuters has more.

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