Brazilian president signs decree easing gun restrictions

Small arms used to illustrate the story [Photo: New Vision}

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, on Tuesday signed a decree temporarily permitting Brazilians to buy guns, fulfilling a campaign promise to overturn strict regulations that prohibited civilians from bearing arms.

Mr Bolsonaro won the presidency by running on a far-right, law-and-order platform.

His message resonated with voters in Brazil, which in 2017 had a record 64,000 murders, more than any other country, with 43,000 of those homicides resulting from firearms.

A one-time army captain who took office on January 1, Bolsonaro wants to overturn a 2003 law that technically banned civilians from purchasing guns, arguing that Brazilians had the right to bear arms and defend themselves from criminals.

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 purchase guns.

Mr Bolsonaro said the decision on the category of persons permitted to carry weapons, was completely subjective.

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At the last count in 2017, the last year government data was available; about 330,000 civilians in Brazil have been legally registered to each have a gun.

Accurate data on how many illegal firearms are in Brazil is difficult to come by, but previous studies from the Justice Ministry have indicated that nearly eight million illegal weapons are in the country.

Brazil’s heavily armed drug gangs and paramilitary militias easily obtain weapons that are made by domestic manufacturers, or smuggled over the country’s porous borders with its neighbours.

Gangs in Rio de Janeiro almost exclusively carry Glock weapons currently, and have illegally obtained an array of AR Rifles that come from American and European manufacturers.

(Reuters/NAN)

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