By: José Niño
Since he was elected in 2018, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has drastically changed the way gun policy is discussed in Brazil and, for that matter, all of Latin America.
Now, Bolsonaro is calling on Brazilian citizens to buy guns. Late last week, Bolsonaro stressed that proponents of civilian disarmament should stop harassing people who purchase guns. In light of a 5 percent increase in murders from 2019 to 2020, Bolsonaro has stood his ground as a proponent for increased gun ownership among lawful Brazilians.
Bolsonaro has used executive orders in the past to liberalize gun restrictions gradually.
His 2019 executive decree relaxed laws on gun ownership, thus allowing Brazilians to keep weapons at home and extend the period that gun licenses are in effect from 5 to 10 years.
Before Bolsonaro came into office, only law enforcement officers, armed forces, and prison guards could buy and carry firearms if they possessed a special permit. The Brazilian leader recognizes, however, that the South American country’s crime problems run deep, so he has continued pushing for further relaxation of gun control laws.
Brazilians have every reason to turn to the right to bear arms for the purposes of personal security. For example, in some parts of Brazil, it takes police more than an hour to respond to crime scenes. Brazil’s slums (favelas) have gained notoriety for their rampant crime and largely contribute to the country’s alarming homicide rates.
Brazil has some of the highest murder rates in the world. According to World Population Review, Brazil’s murder rate stands at 29.53 per 100,000, which gives it at a ranking of 12th place among nations.
Bolsonaro should be praised for his pro-gun advocacy. Brazil is a country that desperately needs armed civilians to stand up against its massive criminal underworld. Should Bolsonaro win his re-election bid in 2022 and continue liberalizing gun laws, Latin America could see the concept of increased civilian gun ownership become a political reality in many other countries in the region.
José Niño is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. Sign up for his mailing list here. Contact him via Facebook, Twitter, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get his e-book, The 10 Myths of Gun Control, here.