RIO DE JANEIRO, Sept. 4 (UPI) -- The number of deaths in Brazil caused by firearms has dropped for the first time in 13 years.
A report by the health ministry said 36,000 people were killed by guns in Brazil last year, an eight percent drop from 2003.
The government attributes the drop to innovative disarmament measures, including a gun buy-back scheme.
The report, released Friday, comes seven weeks before a national referendum on whether to ban outright the sale of guns, the BBC reported.
There are more gun deaths in Brazil than in any other country, with the number of gun fatalities rising each year since the early 1990s.
The report said the reduction was most marked in the states of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
A new law has placed restrictions on who can buy and carry guns, and over the past year nearly 500,000 weapons have been handed in to police under the buy-back scheme.