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News > Brazil

Brazil: Bolsonaro Modifies Decree Easing Assault Rifle Sales

  • Cartridges are exhibit at a rifle club in Ossingen, Switzerland, May 16, 2019.

    Cartridges are exhibit at a rifle club in Ossingen, Switzerland, May 16, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 23 May 2019

Far-right President Jair Bolsonaro modifies his decree on arms due to widespread social protests and legal challenges. 

Due to public and political pushback in Brazil, far-right President Jair Bolsonaro was forced to soften his previous executive decree and prohibit the sale of rifles and shotguns to the public.

Brazil Loosens Gun Control, Civilians Can Own Military Rifles

Under the newest proposal, revised from the original May 8 decree, only politicians, truck drivers, crime reporters, transport companies employees, hunters, shooting club members, among others, will be allowed to purchase guns.

In all cases, weapon bearers must be over 25 years old, cannot have criminal records and must prove they are "morally suitability" and possess "psychological and technical capabilities" to use arms. Previously, purchasers only needed to be 18 years old. 

Big news for those against the measure, Bolsonaro backed off on allowing the public to purchase the T4 rifle, a 5.56 caliber weapon with a force of 1320 joules.

"Facilitating the possession of weapons in a country with high rates of violence is a serious human rights violation," Erika Guevara, Director of Amnesty International for America said, adding that Bolsonaro's discriminatory rhetoric encourages "hate crimes" and "gives an order to attack."

"Lula: violence is faught by providing education and employment rather than weapons."

At the end of 2017, the Geneva-based NGO Small Arms Survey estimated that 15 million weapons were in circulation in Brazil, putting it among the world's top 10 most armed nations.

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) also reported that Brazil was the country with the most deaths caused by firearms (43,000) in 2016. The United States followed with 37,200 homicides, India with 26,500, 15,400 in Mexico, and 13,300 in Colombia.

Recently, a NGO which monitors violence, the Brazilian Public Security Forum, said that local authorities seize some 120,000 illegal weapons a year within the country.

During his 2018 presidential campaign, the former army captain, famous for gesturing shooting a gun, promised that he would encourage "self-defense" with the loosening of gun sales. President Bolsonaro justified his proposal saying 65 percent of the population supported an ease on rifle and hand gun sales, which President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva shot down in 2005.

"Taurus' headquarters are in Brazil but its owners are U.S. citizens!!! If they want killings, just increase weapons sales from the Miami factory to the gringos... Taurus says Bolsonaro's decree releases rifle sales to civilians. The manufacturer expects the regulation to take effect in order to serve customers. 'There are 2,000 people waiting,' it says."

However, a Monday poll by Parana Pesquisas found that 60 percent of Brazilians do not want to have a weapon at home.

"Freedom is more important than life," said Bolsonaro while posing with a T4 rifle in front of a Taurus stand at a 2017 arms show.

A Taurus spokeperson said that it can still offer customers "a complete product portfolio which includes pistols, tactical weapons and sports long weapons in twelve different calibers," while still remaining within the confines of the decree.

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