“Guns don’t feed violence, just as flowers don’t bring peace.” So proclaimed Brazilian presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro said while responding to critics who say that allow law-abiding citizens to own and carry firearms will increase the bloodshed rather than stopping crime.
One plank of the populist ex-army captain’s campaign is people to keep and bear arms for personal defense against the lawlessness created in the country’s infamous favelas (ghettos).
But with Brazilians desperate to ditch the status quo after years of recession, rampant corruption and ever-growing violent crime, his provocative positions make him stand out.
In Madureira, which is surrounded by sometimes almost lawless favelas and where residents live with the constant danger of gunfire, Bolsonaro’s pitch for looser gun control to allow self-defense met with particular approval.
Brazil is home to a strong gun culture and industry with such firearm companies like Forjas Taurus, Amadeo Rossi SA, and IMBEL (Indústria de Material Bélico do Brasil) along with one of the largest ammunition producers in the world, CBC/Magtech (Companhia Brasileira de Cartuchos). In fact, Brazil is the second largest arms industry in the Western Hemisphere.
Since 2004, civilian firearm ownership has been under attack by the Brazilian Department of Justice (Ministério da Justiça) through the requirement that buyers show need. Self defense is not considered a valid reason despite the country’s crushing crime problem.
Brazil has an estimated 17 millions firearms in circulation among the population and in 2005 the people voted against a referendum that would have banned the sale of guns and ammunition to civilians.
Candidate Bolsonaro has promised to allow law-abiding citizens to arm themselves, a popular pledge in the nation that’s been called the world’s most murderous country.
Desperate Brazilians are wondering whether they’d be better off armed, given that around 60,000 of their compatriots are killed each year. Polls show support for gun ownership gaining ground. In an election year, politicians are paying attention.
One of the candidates leading the field for October’s 2018 presidential election — hardline conservative Jair Bolsonaro — has promised to allow law-abiding citizens to arm themselves, a popular pledge in the nation with by far the most homicides of the entire world. Even before then, Congress may debate legislation to overturn the “disarmament statute,” a law that severely restricts civilian ownership of guns, and virtually bans their carry. The proposal would allow Brazilians with clean criminal records who pass psychological and firearm exams to buy up to six weapons and to carry them.
“Everyday, everywhere you look, the criminal is armed with a high-powered weapon as the citizen tries to hide,” Rogerio Peninha Mendonca, the lawmaker behind the proposal, said in an interview. “What we want is for the citizen to be more capable of defending himself.”
It’s almost as if Brazilians have finally concluded that gun control really only disarms law-abiding citizens.