Reuters blames Brazil's gun laws for crimes using stolen guns

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File

Brazil isn’t nearly as much of an anti-gun country as it used to be. That’s good news for Brazil’s citizens, especially considering how high the crime rate was down that way. Now, gun laws allow regular people to buy guns.

It’s still nothing like a pro-gun state here in the US, mind you, but much better than it was.

And now, Reuters is blaming those loosened gun laws for crimes carried out with stolen guns.

The piece, titled, “Bolsonaro’s gun laws arm Brazil’s brazen bank thieves,” makes it clear where the blame goes, and since Reuters knows how many base an opinion on the headline, you have to believe it’s intentional.

Yet the story itself shows something different.

In August last year, Brazilian farmer Reinaldo Huijsmans reported a break-in at his house in the town of Maracaju, where thieves stole six legally registered weapons, including a T4 Taurus assault rifle.

Huijsmans, 39, is one of hundreds of thousands of Brazilians now registered to own guns, a group whose ranks have surged six-fold since far-right President Jair Bolsonaro was elected in 2018 and began loosening gun laws.

Two months later, Huijsmans’ T4 turned up 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) away, in the hands of a heavily-armed gang of alleged bank robbers ambushed and killed by cops near the city of Varginha, in Minas Gerais state, according to an inventory of weapons apprehended from the gang seen by Reuters.

The unexpected journey of Huijsmans’ assault rifle, which Reuters traced using the T4’s serial number provided in his original statement to police, has not previously been reported.

So, let’s be clear here. Huijsmans isn’t accused of doing anything illegal. He was the victim of a crime.

Yet it’s also clear that because criminals stole his gun and apparently provided it to different criminals, somehow it’s the law that’s the problem. Do they really expect people to swallow that?

I’m sorry, but that’s just nonsense.

Remember that these are criminals. Had they not had this gentleman’s property, they’d have obtained it from elsewhere. It’s not like Brazil hasn’t had a violent crime problem for ages, after all, so why is this different?

Take a look a the historic trends we see in Brazil.

Bolsonaro changed Brazil’s gun laws in January 2019. That year saw a 21.86 percent decline in the homicide rate. That was more than the 12.93 percent decline the year before (when Bolsonaro was campaigning in part on loosening gun laws) and the polar opposite of what some would argue would happen.

Now, in fairness, there was an uptick in homicides in 2020; a 7.51 percent increase, in fact.

Yet that’s far lower than our own 2020 increase, which was a 28.64 percent spike. Considering the pandemic and other economic factors, it sounds like Brazil did better than a lot of places did.

And that’s with the loosened gun laws that Reuters is now trying to blame for crime.

I’m sorry, but you don’t get it both ways. You can’t blame guns for every crime while ignoring the dropping crime rate as a whole.

You definitely don’t get to pretend that lawful gun ownership is the problem when you know and admit that criminals have stolen those guns to use unlawfully.

The truth is that Brazil is safer today than it was for years before Bolsonaro loosened the nation’s gun laws. You’re not required to like it, but that doesn’t entitle you to make up your own reality.