Brazil has the most gun deaths annually of any country, and last October it held a referendum on a nationwide gun ban. In the run-up to the vote, polls suggested that more than 70 percent of Brazilians supported the ban. Then the Brazilian gun lobby, which previously had emphasized the desirability of gun ownership, began running advertisements that instead suggested that if the government could take away the right to own a weapon (though Brazilians have no constitutional right to bear arms), it could steal other civil liberties.Shocking, isn't it? Even multi-generational peasants can understand something that baffles even the brightest liberal — sometimes, the goverment is not your friend.
This argument took gun-control advocates by surprise, and on voting day, 64 percent of Brazilians voted against the gun ban. “We gun-control groups failed to anticipate this idea of focusing on rights,” admits Denis Mizne of Sou da Paz, a Brazilian public-policy institute. As a report in Foreign Policy revealed, the National Rifle Association lobbyist Charles Cunningham had traveled to Brazil as early as 2003 to impart strategy to local gun advocates, teaching them to emphasize rights instead of weapons.
Monday, September 18, 2006
The Sputtering NYT Sputters On
This is from the "Idea Lab" section of the NYT Sunday Magazine (you may have to register):