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September 22, 2008

Viva El Sentido Común

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence was a founding member of the vibrant and creative International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA). IANSA is a global movement against gun violence—a network of 800 civil society organizations working in 120 countries to stop the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons. IANSA seeks to make people safer from gun violence by securing stronger regulation on guns in society and better controls on arms exports. It represents the voice of civil society on the international stage (i.e., by participating in the current United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms) and draws on the practical experience of its members to campaign for policies that will protect human security.

Another member of IANSA is an exciting group in Brazil called Viva Rio. The country of Brazil has experienced debilitating levels of gun violence. In recent years, more than 100 Brazilians have died daily from gunfire, many of them young men from poor urban communities. Young men are more likely to be killed by firearms than all other external causes of death combined, including traffic accidents, illness, and other kinds of injuries.

In part due to the leadership of Viva Rio, in 2003 the government of Brazil enacted strong gun control measures. I was excited to read in the August 23-29, 2008 issue of The Economist an article reporting on the falling murder rate in Brazil—particularly in the country's largest city, Sao Paulo. The article cited gun control reform as one of the main reasons for the decline. A 2003 law restricted the right to carry guns. A subsequent amnesty and gun buyback program took half a million weapons off the streets.

Brazil is yet another example of a democracy that refuses to put up with the scourge of gun violence that is endemic to the United States. Many nations have found creative and effective ways to deal with the problem that we have chosen to ignore. Perhaps it is time to once again pull our heads out of the sand, look around at other nation's "best practices," and take some coordinated national action to Stop Gun Violence.

1 comment:

  1. Indeed, if only the U.S. could remove the strange-hold of the gun lobby in order to enact similar legislation...it would definitely be a positive step in helping to make sure that guns stayed out of unsafe hands (i.e. mentally unstable individuals, children, criminals...)in order to bring about TRULY greater security- not the kinds that the NRA likes so much to pontificate about. The identity of the U.S. was not created around guns, nor does increased security necessarily come out of gun ownership- hopefully, Americans remember that.