In response to the increasing levels of gun violence racking Brazil, smartphone apps have been released in that country which tell users where gunshots have been reported or where active firefights are ongoing.

Two apps, “Fogo Cruzado” or Cross Fire, and “Onde Tem Tiroteio” Where are the Firefights, have been developed in conjunction with aid groups and concerned citizens about the threat of gun violence Brazilians face. The apps are intended to keep users informed on shootings so that they may avoid those areas.

“Our job here is not to denounce anyone, we do not have a direct focus on the police or on the drug gangs,” Henrique Coelho Caamaño, a volunteer for the Onde Tem Tiroteio app, told Reuters. “Our focus is really to get people out of the way of stray bullets.”

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The apps also report on casualty figures from each incident, listing numbers of wounded and dead following each exchange of gunfire.

There are has been a precipitous spike in shooting deaths this year, increasing 11 percent in Rio de Janeiro, and a 50% increase in deaths as a result of police shootouts. Along with the rise in criminal violence, stray bullets have become more of a deadly threat, particularly with the highly populated urban areas in cities like Rio. Civilians are struck by stray rounds as police and gang members exchange gunfire with regularity.

Brazil has high rates of gun ownership, but strict gun control laws, relative to the United States for example. According to NPR, Brazilians must meet the following requirements to obtain a permit to own a firearm: a fixed address, proof of legitimate income, no criminal record, a mental health test, proof you know how to handle a gun and shoot it, and evidence of why you need a gun.

Despite these controls, gun violence is only increasing, making Brazil one of the deadliest countries in the world. Government leaders insist that the violence is due to criminals and drug traffickers, not law-abiding citizens looking to own firearms legally.

Featured image courtesy of chensiyuan – chensiyuan, GFDL, Wikipedia