Brazil Moves to Take Back Guns After Surge in Purchases
Ever since Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva took power late last year, his regime has been working to scrap pro-gun reforms that his predecessor Jair Bolsonaro implemented. Some of Lula’s measures included the suspension of new firearm registrations and the reduction of the number of guns a person can own – from six to three.
The country now has roughly 3 million firearms registered by Brazilians for civilian use. 1.6 million of these guns were bought during Bolsonaro’s four-year term per analysis by the Igarapé Institute, a Brazilian think tank.
The Lula regime now wants gun owners to give up their firearms.
“It’s time to put down your weapons, weapons that should never have been wielded,” Lula said following his victory during the October presidential election against Bolsonaro. “Guns kill and we choose life.”
To determine the number of firearms that came into circulation under his Bolsonaro, Lula gave gun owners until March 31 to take any firearms they purchased under laxer rules since May 2019 to the closest police station. From there, these firearms would be inspected and registered in a government database.
In April, Lula is expected to pass a presidential decree compelling gun owners to sell firearms to the state that go beyond the new three-per-person rule limit, or face arrest, Brazil’s justice minister, Flávio Dino, said to The Wall Street Journal.
“Any gun that is not declared will be considered an illegal weapon…they’ll be committing a crime,” stated Mr. Dino. Per the civilian disarmament law, possessing illegal guns can have an individual face up to 2 to 4 years in prison in addition to being slapped with a fine.
The Brazilian government estimates that just 60% of gun owners have been in compliance with registering thus far.
As president, Bolsonaro ushered in unprecedented reforms that saw him implement over 40 decrees relaxing weapons restrictions and allowing for increased numbers of lawful Brazilians to own firearms.
Homicides plummeted to a 15-year low in 2022 under the Bolsonaro administration, which gun rights advocates used to demonstrate that the former Brazilian president’s pro-gun reforms worked in deterring criminals.
With Lula now in charge, Brazil is likely going to revert to its high crime past. For an institutionally corrupt country such as Brazil, having the right to bear arms can be the difference between life and death for many of its citizens.