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    A sign reading "I support gun carrying" in a storein Sao Paulo, Brazil. | Photo: EFE

Published 16 January 2019

The former president regretted Jair Bolsonaro's decision to loosen gun restrictions.

Brazil’s ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva says he regrets President Jair Bolsonaro’s decision to loosen gun restrictions, proposing a different strategy instead.

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“It would be better to arm the people with work and books,” said Lula in his Twitter account on Tuesday.

Bolsonaro signed a decree Tuesday temporarily making it easier for Brazilians to buy guns and “guarantee the legitimate right to defense,” the first step toward a campaign promise to overturn regulations that have essentially prohibited civilians from bearing arms.

“I, as a president, will use this weapon,” he said before signing it.

The decree, which will expire unless it is ratified within 120 days by Congress, will remove the "discretionary" role that federal police have played in approving civilians' requests to buy guns. Bolsonaro has said that decisions on who may or may not carry weapons are completely subjective.

Now, citizens over 25 years old with no criminal records will have it easier to get a gun.

Gleisi Hoffmann, senator and national president of the Workers’ Party (PT), pointed out tat 61 percent of the population declared to be against arms possession in December, according to a poll by Data Folha, and declared the PT will challenge the decree.

“He wants to arm the people who are against weapons,” she said.

A one-time army captain who took office on Jan. 1, Bolsonaro wants to overturn a 2003 law that was tantamount to a ban on civilians from purchasing guns, arguing that Brazilians have the right to bear arms and defend themselves from criminals, a narrative that right-wing supporters of gun ownership use in the United States.

He has also promised to arm farmers and large-scale landowners against social movements and landless workers, in a country with a history of massacres against indigenous populations that are an obstacle for loggers and other economic ventures in the Amazon jungle.

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