“My son found my gun. He was only 8 years.” – Protect your family. Disarm-yourself.
National Disarmament Campaign – Brazil
Source: Brazil’s Ministry of Justice Blog
I should have known better. On local and national TV and in the local newspapers, reports abound of people shot to death during arguments between motorists on the streets, in bars, and disputes between neighbors.
I was watching a popular eight o’clock novella (soap opera) when a neighbor arrived in the courtyard below our third-floor apartment. Music blasted from his car. Our TV appeared mute. After a stressful day at work, I could not handle such inconsiderate behavior and, in anger, stormed down the stairs to ask him to lower the volume. I should have exercised self-restraint.
There were two men standing behind the vehicle when I approached. Before I could say anything, one of the men went inside the ground-floor apartment and returned holding a revolver at his side.
A woman, presumably his wife, rushed out behind him. “Ari, don’t do anything crazy,” she said.
Ari came at me like a pit bull. “I have the right to play music,” he shouted.
I glanced at the revolver, five inches away from my hand. Survival mode kicked in. I looked up at him and said in a calm voice: “Senhor, all I’m asking is that you kindly lower the volume. Only this.”
After telling the other man to lower the music, he ranted about being harassed by his neighbors, intent in driving him from his home. I listened. I had stepped into a fight that was not mine. When I suggested that he speak with the sindico of our condominium, he lambasted management for siding with his tormentors.
“Ari, come inside. Let the woman leave,” the woman said. “You’re frightening her sons.”
In the shadows, about ten feet away, my two sons clung to each other. I had put my life at risk, and their future in jeopardy. Never again could I make such flawed judgment.
Ari turned off the music and went inside.
A week later, Ari and his wife moved out. Perhaps, he learned that fighting with neighbors was a battle lost. I learned that some of my neighbors owned guns and were prepared to use it at the slightest provocation.
Stress, anger, and guns make a deadly cocktail.
After the Brazilian government sanctioned the Statute of Disarmament in December 2003, national campaigns for disarming the population collected almost one million weapons over the next seven years (Brazilian Forum of Public Security, Ministry of Justice). While deaths by armas de fogo have fallen, the Executive-Secretary of the Ministry of Justice considers the continuing high levels of extreme concern.
In 2010, over 35,000 people – 70.5 percent of homicides in Brazil – died from gunshot wounds. This number rises to 38,000 when you add gun deaths caused by accidents, suicide, and undetermined intention (Ministry of Health – pdf file).
In Fortaleza, Ceará – where refusal to hand over your Nike running shoes to an armed robber can cost you your life – I maneuvered the streets like an unarmed soldier in a combat zone.