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Brazil’s incoming president to ease gun laws after taking office

RIO DE JANEIRO - Brazil’s President-elect Jair Bolsonaro said he will issue a decree to loosen gun laws to enable Brazilians to protect themselves from violence.

Making it easier for Brazilians to arm themselves against crime was one of his main campaign promises. “By decree, we aim to guarantee the possession of firearms for citizens without criminal record,” Bolsonaro, who takes office on Jan.1, tweeted on Saturday.

The decree would allow anyone eligible to keep a gun at home, though a special permit would still be needed to carry a weapon in public. “Other ways to perfect (the possession of firearms in Brazil) depend on the National Congress,” Bolsonaro added.

Bolsonaro can modify the nation’s gun laws using his presidential prerogative, without submitting a bill to the Congress. According to the former military captain, “good people” have the right to defend themselves by acquiring guns.

The current law requires gun owners to be over 25, employed, able to justify their “effective need” and psychologically capable of the responsibility to own a firearm, as well as having no criminal record or charges against them. Brazil’s Federal Police is the authority that grants gun permits.

Those in favor of relaxing gun laws in place since 2003 argue the laws have not prevented criminals from accessing firearms or the rise in homicides. In 2017, Brazil registered 63,880 homicides, and 30.8 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, one of the highest rates in the world.

In 2016, 71.1 percent of the 62,517 homicides registered were due to firearms, according to the most recent edition of the “Atlas of Violence,” produced by the Institute of Applied Economic Research and the Brazilian Forum of Public Security.


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