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15 Jan, 2019 17:25

Brazil’s Bolsonaro loosens gun laws in homicide-plagued nation

Brazil’s Bolsonaro loosens gun laws in homicide-plagued nation

Brazil’s new right-wing president has signed a decree that makes it easier for civilians to purchase firearms. Jair Bolsonaro believes it’s the answer to a rampant growth in violence.

Fighting violent crimes and loosening gun ownership laws to “guarantee self-defense” were some one of Bolsonaro’s key campaign promises. Brazil saw a record 63,800 homicides in 2017, the last year for which reliable statistics is available. About 43,000 of those were gun-related.

The promised gun law change came short of a reform for now, with the decree temporarily scrapping the obligation for Brazilians to prove an “effective need” to own a firearm when purchasing one. Introduced in 2003 by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the current strict gun ownership law also includes mandatory background checks, a 25-year age limit, being in employment and other requirements, which in practice Brazil has struggled to enforce. Bolsonaro, then a lawmaker, was among the vocal opponents of the law.

For the new Brazilian president, the decree allows congressional approval to be circumvented, but it’s said to be the first step to the promised liberal firearm ownership rules, favored by Bolsonaro’s supporters in gun and defense industries in Brazil.

Much like the NRA in the US, a country notorious for gun violence, he and his supporters argue that armed citizens would be able to fight back against armed gangs. Critics say giving more resources to the police would be a better option.

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Known as a fervent gun supporter who often poses with finger guns, Bolsonaro has advised police to ‘shoot to kill’ when dealing with criminals and even promised to figuratively “machine gun” his opposition.

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The Brazilian leader will still have to overcome resistance from center and left-leaning legislators when he attempts to pass his gun ownership bill.

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