2005 Brazilian Firearms and Ammunition Referendum
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2005 Brazilian Firearms and Ammunition Referendum
Brazilian firearms and ammunition referendum

Should the commerce of firearms and ammunition be prohibited in Brazil?

LocationBrazil (pop. 169.7m[1])
Date23 October 2005
Votes %
Yes 33,333,045 36.06%
No 59,109,265 63.94%
Valid votes 92,442,310 96.92%
Invalid or blank votes 2,933,514 3.08%
Total votes 95,375,824 100.00%
Registered voters/turnout 122,042,615 78.15%
  • Brazil approves the commerce of firearms and ammunition
  • President Lula, however, maintains the prohibition
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politics and government of
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On October 23, 2005, Brazil held a country-wide referendum on article 35 of the Disarmament Statute to determine whether to approve or disapprove the article, which states in full, "The sale of firearms and ammunition is prohibited in the entire national territory, except to those entities provided in article 6 of this Law." ("Art. 35. É proibida a comercialização de arma de fogo e munição em todo o território nacional, salvo para as entidades previstas no art. 6o desta Lei."[2]) The referendum failed by nearly 2/3 and that part of the statute was not enacted.

The referendum and its date had been provided by the Disarmament Statute itself (art. 35, §1o).[2] During the drafting and development of the law, it had been decided that article 35 should be submitted to a referendum because of the importance of its subject. On July 7, 2005, the Federal Senate of Brazil promulgated legislative decree 780, which authorized the referendum. Article 2 of its decree stipulated that the public consultation should employ the following question: "Should commerce in firearms and ammunition be prohibited in Brazil?" ("O comércio de armas de fogo e munição deve ser proibido no Brasil?"[3])


Voting was compulsory for people between the ages of 18 and 70. The belief of a fundamental natural human right to self-defense, low efficacy of police, high levels of use of illegal weapons in crimes in contrast to a very rare usage of legal weapons, are some of the factors that may have influenced 65% of Brazilian people to vote against the ban proposal. The gun ban proposal received broad support in the press, while celebrities were generally in favor of it, only Brazil's anti-ban social groups and right-wing press, most importantly Veja the Brazilian news magazine (indeed weekly publication of any kind) with the largest paid circulation in the country. Other media, like the powerful Globo group (owners of Brazil's largest TV network Rede Globo) and newspapers of record like Folha de S.Paulo advocated clearly pro gun ban. The Federal Government was a self-declared pro gun ban power [1].

According to the Brazilian constitution, every citizen has the right to self-defense and the pro-gun campaigners focused their arguments on this constitutional right, as well as making economic arguments.[]

A decisive argument made by the pro-gun campaigners was to question the morality of the government removing a right from its citizens, resulting in a strong feeling among voters that no rights should ever be allowed to be taken away by the government.[4] Also, there were debates about the significant cultural status of gun ownership in the southern states of the country.

Another major argument used by the pro-gun ownership campaigners was the fact that the absolute majority of the gun crimes in Brazil were committed with unregistered and illegal guns, specially high caliber guns, that were already forbidden in Brazil and due to that, it would be of no use to forbid law-abiding citizens to own legal registered guns in accordance to the law. This argument was strongly reinforced by the fact that the regions where gun ownership is widespread were the ones with the smallest number of gun-related deaths. In the South region where there is the highest number of legal guns per citizen only 59% of all murders were caused by firearms in contrast to 70% in the Northeast where there is the lowest number of legal firearms per citizen.[5]

The anti-gun proponents argued that guns are dangerous for society and that their only reason to exist is to harm others.

The anti-gun campaign received widespread support from several famous actors, musicians and other Brazilian celebrities and a noticeable support from the nation's main TV station, Rede Globo.

The ban had the backing of the federal government and sections of the Brazilian Roman Catholic Church.[6] The anti-gun lobby received vast support and free coverage from the press, including Rede Globo, Brazil's largest TV network despite its parent company fairly neutral stance which eventually was reflected. By that time most Protestant-evangelical news organizations had taken a clearly anti-ban stance (including the Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus-owned Rede Record, Globo's main competitor at the time).

International support

The IANSA member groups Instituto Sou da Paz and Viva Rio[7] campaigned for a complete ban on civilian gun sales in Brazil, in support of the referendum.[8] A week before the vote, IANSA, an international gun control organization coordinated an international day of support for the Brazilian ban, with demonstrations taking place in Britain, Italy, South Africa, and other countries. IANSA urged support of the ban to "reinforce the movement in favor of gun control in other Latin American countries riddled with armed violence, and back the efforts to control private gun ownership at [an] international level."[6]


The result of the referendum ended with a victory of those against the gun ban, with over 63% of the voters opposed.[9] Although the Brazilian Government, the Catholic Church, and the United Nations, argued in favor of a gun ban, it was argued successfully that guns are needed for personal security.[10]

2005 Brazilian firearms and ammunition referendum
Choice Votes %
Referendum failed No 59,109,265 63.94
Yes 33,333,045 36.06
Valid votes 92,442,310 96.92
Invalid or blank votes 2,933,514 3.08
Total votes 95,375,824 100.00
Registered voters and turnout 122,042,615 78.15
Source: Superior Electoral Court[11]
National referendum results
59,109,265 (64%)
33,333,045 (36%)

Results by region

Region Electorate Voter turnout,
of eligible
Votes Proportion of votes
Yes No Yes No
  Midwest 8,545,003 75.38% 1,971,506 4,308,155 31.40% 68.60%
  North 8,418,948 72.10% 1,718,131 4,232,295 28.87% 71.13%
  Northeast 32,991,409 74.78% 10,147,793 13,735,686 42.49% 57.51%
  South 18,564,114 81.78% 3,028,661 11,812,085 20.41% 79.59%
  Southeast 53,523,141 80.36% 16,466,954 25,021,044 39.69% 60.31%

Results by state

State Electorate Voter turnout,
of eligible
Votes Proportion of votes
Yes No Yes No
  Acre 389,137 69.49% 43,025 221,828 16.24% 83.76%
  Alagoas 1,774,914 73.05% 568,083 690,448 45.14% 54.86%
  Amazonas 1,688,287 73.16% 374,090 839,007 30.84% 69.16%
  Amapá 332,589 75.61% 65,593 181,764 26.52% 73.48%
  Bahia 8,952,123 72.07% 2,770,718 3,448,907 44.55% 55.45%
  Ceará 5,144,516 76.53% 1,730,922 2,090,103 45.30% 54.70%
  Espírito Santo 2,253,444 77.19% 736,510 982,056 43.62% 56.38%
  Federal District 1,564,500 77.19% 528,169 695,328 43.17% 56.83%
  Goiás 3,620,968 74.39% 839,508 1,776,072 32.10% 67.90%
  Maranhão 3,735,131 70.72% 995,849 1,565,845 38.87% 61.13%
  Minas Gerais 13,320,622 78.28% 3,889,398 6,155,748 38.72% 61.28%
  Mato Grosso 1,854,477 72.78% 305,457 1,016,288 23.11% 76.89%
  Mato Grosso do Sul 1,505,058 72.78% 298,372 820,467 26.67% 73.33%
  Pará 3,999,863 72.04% 928,006 1,894,619 32.88% 67.12%
  Paraíba 2,468,633 78.34% 690,751 1,183,463 36.866% 63.14%
  Paraná 6,948,437 80.45% 1,463,776 3,988,689 26.85% 73.15%
  Pernambuco 5,656,670 76.85% 1,918,048 2,296,510 45.51% 54.49%
  Piauí 1,990,993 76.65% 545,828 928,883 37.09% 62.91%
  Rio de Janeiro 10,645,180 81.17% 3,155,897 5,124,572 38.11% 61.89%
  Rio Grande do Norte 1,558,081 76.99% 575,783 938,514 38.02% 61.98%
  Rio Grande do Sul 7,593,504 82.88% 812,207 5,353,854 13.17% 86.83%
  Rondônia 954,308 70.83% 144,117 519,425 21.72% 78.28%
  Roraima 216,022 73.49% 23,453 132,928 15.00% 85.00%
  Santa Catarina 4,022,170 82.01% 752,678 2,469,542 23.36% 76.64%
  São Paulo 27,303,895 81.32% 8,685,149 12,788,668 40.45% 59.55%
  Sergipe 1,245,913 78.68% 351,811 596,013 37.12% 62.88%
  Tocantins 838,742 71.15% 139,847 442,724 24.01% 75,99%

See also


  1. ^ Marli, Mônica (14 October 2019). "Conheça os fatos que marcaram a história de cada censo demográfico" (in Portuguese). Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística. Retrieved 2020.
  2. ^ a b "LEI No 10.826, DE 22 DE DEZEMBRO DE 2003". Retrieved .
  3. ^ "Decreto Legislativo no 780, de 2005". Retrieved .
  4. ^ http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/folha/cotidiano/ult95u114537.shtml
  5. ^ Urbim, Emiliano (2008). "Mapa da morte", Superinteressante, Nº 262, Pp 30 and 31.
  6. ^ a b Morton, David (2006-07-05). "Gunning For the World". Foreign Policy. Retrieved .
  7. ^ "IANSA: Members: South America". IANSA. 2008-06-18. Archived from the original on 2003-11-02.
  8. ^ "The Campaign for the Brazilian Referendum Starts Today" (PDF). IANSA. 2005-08-05. Archived from the original (pdf) on 2008-04-14. Retrieved .
  9. ^ Associated Press (October 23, 2005). "Brazilians Block Gun Ban". Fox News. Archived from the original on August 7, 2008. Retrieved 2008.
  10. ^ BBCNews
  11. ^ "TSE chega a 100% da apuração dos votos do referendo" (in Portuguese). Folha de S. Paulo. 24 October 2005. Retrieved 2020.


External links

Information (in Portuguese)
Opinions against the referendum (in Portuguese)
Opinions in support of the referendum (in Portuguese)

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