Lula da Silva rolls back Bolsonaro’s looser Brazilian gun controls

The current Brazilian president has been critical of his predecessor’s actions regarding firearms

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Friday signed an executive order tightening civilian access to firearms in a bid to slow a surge in gun ownership during the presidency of his far-right predecessor Jair Bolsonaro.

The decree fulfills a campaign promise by Lula, who criticized looser gun controls under Bolsonaro, arguing they were responsible for a wave of political violence during last year’s election.

Bolsonaro, who often urged his supporters to arm themselves or risk being “enslaved,” has said guns make Brazil safer, pointing to a lower murder rate during his time in office.

The country has nearly 800,000 registered gun owners, up from 117,467 in 2018 when Bolsonaro was elected, according to the 2023 Brazilian Yearbook of Public Security.

Bolsonaro turbocharged gun culture by loosening restrictions on “hunters, marksmen or collectors,” (CACs) making it easy for people to register for such permits and stockpile weapons.

Lula’s decree rolled back firearms access for that group.

A registered hunter now can own six weapons, instead of the previous 30 including up to 15 restricted firearms. Hunters will also have access to fewer bullets and need clearance from environmental protection agency Ibama.

“It is one thing for a citizen to have a gun at home for protection and assurance … but we cannot allow there to be arsenals of weapons in people’s hands,” Lula said in a speech at an event to present the measures.

“We will continue to fight for a disarmed country. Who has to be well-armed is the Brazilian police. It is the Brazilian Armed Forces,” the president added.

Lula also passed responsibility for civilian weapons control from the army to the federal police. The army was criticized for weak oversight, incomplete databases, little transparency and poor information-sharing with law enforcement agencies.

The 9mm handgun, a favorite of those with CAC permits, will no longer be accessible to civilians. Lula’s decree also closes a loophole that allowed many gun owners to go out in public with loaded weapons if they claimed to be going to a gun club.

Gun owners who bought their weapons during the previous administration will not be forced to give them up, but the decree envisages a buyback program starting this year.

– Reuters


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