Examining Gun Control Laws in South America
In light of last week’s tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, when 28 people were brutally killed, the debate regarding the use of handguns by civilians in Chile was once again re-opened.
SANTIAGO — It is interesting to have a look at firearms legislation in South America, where street gangs and violence is commonplace. According to a study done at Universidad de Chile, the numer of incidents of handgun use is higher in regions with low levels of education, high poverty and unemployment, and a younger population. It is not surprising that the most vulnerable zones in this matter are Brazil, Colombia, and Venezuela.
In Brazil, the minimum age required to legally buy a firearm varies between 18 and 25 years, depending on the category of the weapon. Due to the increasing number of accidents involving the inappropriate use of guns, the Brazilian government is now revising the laws in order to completely ban civilian use.
In Colombia, requirements are higher, with a minimum age of 25 and legal proof of having a clean police record.
In Venezuela, extreme measures have been introduced and the commercial sale of guns is officially banned. The ultimate goal, according to President Hugo Chávez’s government, is to entirely disarm the civilian population.
Interesting examples are also Uruguay and Paraguay. Apart from the minimum age required (between 18 and 22 years), you must also have a medical certificate proving your mental and physical health to buy a gun.
If such measures could be introduced in the US, many things would probably change.
Even as one of the safest countries in South America, numbers in Chile still show that 49.2% of the murders committed each year involve the use of handguns. Legislation in this matter requires the owner to be older than 18 and have a permanent address. In addition, two certificates proving both psychological health and technical capacity to use a gun. If a person wants to buy and use more than two guns, all he has to do is to fill out an additional form.
Restrictions on the use of arms in Chile is the charge of the Dirección General de Movilización Nacional (DGMN). The institution recently launched a publicity campaign in order to warn people about the great responsibility of carrying a gun. Furthermore, on December 19, over 5,000 guns for civilian use were destroyed as a part of the fight against crime in Chile.
These modest, but strong actions show that there is good reason why so many people decide to settle down in Chile.
After all, safety matters most.