Brazil’s Lula restricts civilian gun possession, reversing Bolsonaro policy – National

Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva on Friday signed a decree tightening restrictions on civilians’ access to guns in Brazil, aimed at reversing the pro-firearms policy of his right-wing predecessor Jair Bolsonaro.

The decree reduces the number of guns a civilian can carry for personal safety from 4 to 2, reduces the ammunition allowed per gun from 200 to 50, and requires documentation proving the need to keep a weapon.

It also bans civilians from owning 9mm handguns, limiting them to police and military personnel.

“It’s a different matter for ordinary citizens to have guns in their homes to protect themselves or as a security, because some people think it’s safe.

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During Bolsonaro’s 2019-2022 term, Bolsonaro relaxed rules about owning guns and ammunition, saying “good citizens” should have the right to protect their families and property. Although Brazil has no constitutional right to bear arms, Bolsonaro insisted that “armed citizens will never be enslaved.”

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The estimated number of guns in civilian hands in the country of 214 million people has more than tripled to 2.9 million, according to the Sue da Paz Institute, a nonprofit that monitors public safety.

The figure is still far lower than in the United States, and despite an increase in guns, Brazil’s killing rate remained stable during Bolsonaro’s term. A report released on Thursday by the Brazilian Public Safety Forum said there were about 47,500 murders in 2022, the last year in office, about the same rate as in 2019.

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Along with Sou da Paz, the Igarape Institute, another public security think tank, praised the new regulation in a statement, calling it “another step toward restoring responsible standards and legal security in gun control in Brazil.”

The Lula government is encouraging its citizens to sell firearms that are not allowed under the new rules by the end of the year or risk being confiscated by federal police.

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The new rule also strengthens the federal police’s position as the official gun watchdog, sidelining the military that previously held that role.

In May, Justice Minister Lula imposed a deadline for citizens to legally register their firearms with the federal police. That role was previously commonly played by the military, but the Lula New Left government has cast doubt on the military’s credibility to carry out that role as many of its members tend to support Bolsonaro.

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“We will continue to fight for a disarmed country. It is the Brazilian police and the federal army that should be fully armed with guns,” Lula said.

Firing ranges, which proliferated and were relatively unregulated under Bolsonaro, are now facing new restrictions. You can work from 6am to 10pm and must be at least 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) away from school.

Lula’s new policy will also change the duration of gun licenses from 10 years under Bolsonaro to new limits of three to five years, depending on who holds them.

© 2023 Canadian Press

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