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Learning English - Words in the News
24 October, 2005 - Published 10:29 GMT
Brazilians say 'no' to gun control
Brazilians say no to gun control

A proposal to stop the sale of guns in Brazil has been defeated in a referendum by a margin of nearly two to one. Last year, there were thirty-six thousand gun deaths in Brazil, more than any other country. This report from Steve Kingstone:

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Brazilians went to the polls to answer a simple question: should the sale of guns and ammunition be banned? They were urged to vote 'yes' by the government, the Catholic church and the United Nations. But instead, by close to two to one, they voted 'no'. Which means gun shops will remain open and, as now, anyone over twenty-five will be able to buy a firearm, subject to background checks.

The result may come as a surprise to outsiders, given the horrific scale of gun violence in Brazil but the 'no' campaign convinced voters that the proposed ban would have no effect on hardened criminals on the grounds that criminals don't buy guns legally in shops.

The referendum was also portrayed in terms of civil rights. The 'no' campaign acknowledged that not every Brazilian would want to buy a gun. But it said that in a crime-ridden society, citizens should have the right to choose how to defend themselves and their families. Organisers of the failed 'yes' campaign admit they were out-manoeuvred. Given the overwhelming opposition to a gun ban, it may be many years before politicians feel able to revisit this issue.

Steve Kingstone, BBC, Sao Paulo

Listen to the words

went to the polls

legally stopped

a firearm
a gun that can be easily carried

people who do not live in Brazil

hardened criminals
people who have been criminals for a long time and commit many crimes

on the grounds that


a crime-ridden society
a country where there is a lot of crime every day

they were out-manoeuvred
the other side had better tactics in the election

to revisit this issue
to talk about the subject of gun control again

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