In countries like Brazil, where the stringent gun control laws forbid citizens from owning any kind of weapon no matter what, the number of gun-related homicides is record-shattering. The anti-gun culture is such a part of the country’s daily life that television reporters alert viewers to never react or try to defend themselves in the case of an attack.
I know because I grew up there.
Because citizens are constantly told to avoid reacting, and precisely because the only weapons in circulation are the ones obtained illegally, common thieves and murderers all have a massive advantage over law-abiding citizens. So much so that many of the most common property thefts are carried out by teens and young men making gun gestures and covering their hands with their T-shirts.
When I was attacked, I was sitting inside my car in front of a friend’s house after I dropped her off. The robber was carrying a handgun and he threatened me. But I didn’t listen to television reporters, my elders, or teachers. As a young adult, I didn’t do a lot of thinking at the moment, I just reacted, and drove away as fast as I could.
Then, my car was the only thing of value I owned and I was counting on selling it so I could visit friends in the United States.
Of course, as I drove away and saw the man briefly ride his motorcycle after me, I knew right then and there the thief could have shot me dead. But, it didn’t matter. I hit the gas and zigzagged through the streets of São Paulo’s tough North Zone neighborhoods until I lost him.
After I got home, still in shock and out of breath, I wondered why that robber simply let me go. Was it because he was surprised that I reacted and fled? Did he scramble off to find another victim? Probably. After all, he knew he could find someone easier to rob just down the street.
To me, that’s precisely why criminals tend to not be as fearful of acting with impunity in places where gun restrictions are in place.
As noted by Ryan McMaken for The Mises Institute, while many factors will contribute to lowering the rates of homicides, U.S. states that are “largely free of gun restrictions — like the Dakotas, Utah, Idaho, Minnesota, Vermont, and New Hampshire — have very low homicide rates.”
Could it be that, perhaps, criminals hesitate to attack people who might be armed? Maybe. Seeing the crime rates in Brazil increase regardless of how many restrictions were imposed on weapon ownership made me think that that’s one huge factor. And the fact that I was so easily “let go” after reacting and running away from a robber seems to confirm that.
Whatever it is, I sure am glad I didn’t listen to anything but my own instincts.