Brazil’s firearm ownership booms under President Bolsonaro, and gun laws loosen: NPR

A visitor holds a weapon during Shot Fair Brasil, a weapons exhibition held at the Expoville Convention and Exhibition Center in Joinville, Santa Catarina state, Brazil on August 5.

Albari Sosa / AFP via Getty Images


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A visitor holds a weapon during Shot Fair Brasil, a weapons exhibition held at the Expoville Convention and Exhibition Center in Joinville, Santa Catarina state, Brazil on August 5.

Albari Sosa / AFP via Getty Images

RIO BONITO, Brazil – A man applying for a gun permit at a shooting range shows a pistol and fires 10 shots at a human-sized target 20 feet away. Almost all the bullets hit the middle of the fuselage at the sweet spot of the target.

The shooter, Wagner Carneiro, is a former Brazilian army sergeant. He says that a man in a car suddenly pointed a gun at his head while asking for directions and demanded his mobile phone. Now, 40-year-old Carneiro wants a gun for himself.

Wagner Carneiro at the shooting range in Rio Bonito, Brazil on July 16.

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Wagner Carneiro at the shooting range in Rio Bonito, Brazil on July 16.

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“I need this to protect my family,” speaking from the border in the city of Rio Bonito, about 40 miles west of Rio de Janeiro.

Thanks to right-wing populist President Jair Bolsonaro, whose hero is former President Donald Trump, it has become a lot easier for Brazilians like Carneiro to get guns. Since taking office in 2019, Bolsonaro has issued more than a dozen decrees easing restrictions on gun ownership for civilians.

Bolsonaro, who faces an uphill election battle in October, has enthusiastically followed Brazil’s growing gun lobby and is often photographed holding a gun sign with his thumb and forefinger.

“Expanding the right of the population to bear arms has been one of Bolsonaro’s main election promises from day one,” says Fabio Zanini, a columnist for folha d’s paulo, a leading Brazilian newspaper. “Gun owners are one of their main election targets.”

Brazil still has more gun regulations than the United States, including mandatory psychological and firearm safety exams. But now private citizens can buy more powerful weapons and ammunition and in greater quantities. Collectors and competitive shooters can purchase automatic rifles.

Since 2018, the number of guns in private hands has doubled to nearly 2 million, according to data from the Brazilian military and police analyzed by a Brazilian security think tank. i am at peace,

There are gun stores and shooting tournaments going on all over Brazil. they are largely involved shooting festival, held in southern Brazil where many people are of German descent, and is a combination of beer-drenched Oktoberfest and shooting guns. average of one new shooting range Brazil’s UOL website reported that Bolsonaro’s office has been open every day for about four years.

Some Brazilian gun enthusiasts imitate their American counterparts by talking about their “Second Amendment” rights, even though there is no constitutional right to bear arms. Others like Rodrigo Santoro, who is training to be a weapons instructor at the Rio Bonito shooting range, do not trust the police to protect them from well-armed criminals.

“The main principle is to protect yourself, your family, your home,” he says. “We defend guns in the hands of the good guys because the bad guys already have guns.”

Brazil’s most high-profile gun advocate, after President Bolsonaro, is his son, a congressman eduardo bolsonaro, In July, he celebrated his 38th birthday with a cake decorated with revolvers. He claims that looser gun regulations have helped reduce Brazil’s murder rate.

“It was the biggest drop in homicides … since 1980,” he reported. Tucker Carlson Fox News in June said “So, Brazil is safe, thank goodness, because of this policy.”

but the country murder rate Su da Paz manager Bruno Langeni says Bolsonaro was going downhill even before he took over. And despite this trend, the homicide rate of more than 22 homicides per 100,000 people was still three times higher than the death rate. We In 2020 according to World Bank data.

Cecilia Oliveira, who directs cross fireInstead of promoting gun ownership for self-defense, authorities should focus on reforming the police, says a project showing gun violence in Brazilian cities.

“when you [say]: ‘I have to protect myself because the police aren’t working,’ it’s not right,” she says. “The point is we have to make the police work the right way.”

Mass shootings by civilians are rare in Brazil. But increased gun ownership has led to more suicides and gun accidents involving children, says Langeni of the Sou da Paz think tank. Furthermore, he says drug trafficking group Are legally recruiting civilians to buy automatic rifles, which are then handed over to criminals.

“We are seeing more and more episodes in America of what you would call a ‘straw buyer’ purchase – turning firearms to crime,” he says.

A Brazilian citizen shows his identity card to a federal police agent (left) while trading in two collection rifles as part of a national firearm buyback program in Sao Paulo, Brazil, July 23, 2004.

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A Brazilian citizen shows his identity card to a federal police agent (left) while trading in two collection rifles as part of a national firearm buyback program in Sao Paulo, Brazil, July 23, 2004.

Mauricio Lima / AFP via Getty Images

Before the October election, Election President Bolsonaro is trailing leftist candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. He is a former president who tightened Brazil’s gun laws when he first took office in 2003 Legislation prevented ordinary citizens from buying guns, while the repurchase program led to the return of more 700,000 firearms, Soon after, the Brazilian murder rate plummeted, although it began to creep back in 2007.

Hence, the possibility that Lula, as the former president is widely known, could return to power, has some Brazilians bothering to apply for gun permits, an instructor at the shooting range in Rio Bonito and Bolsonaro’s. Says ardent supporter Alexandre Coelho.

“Left governments do not believe in the right to self-defense. They believe that the state has to protect you and always will be. [there] to defend you. This is a lie,” he says. “Right-wing governments believe in the right to self-defense.”

His clients include Carneiro, the man who was robbed at gunpoint for his cellphone and who is now completing his shooting trial. Coelho is impressed as he examines the bullet hole in the target.

“A total of 95 points” out of a possible 100, he says. “He’s approved.”

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