Brazil implements stricter gun control measures

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Brazil’s President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, recently signed an executive order aimed at limiting civilian access to firearms, as a response to an escalating surge in gun ownership during the presidency of his far-right predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro.

Lula’s decision signifies fulfillment of one of his campaign promises, where he was critical of Bolsonaro’s relaxed gun control measures. The latter was seen as a contributing factor to a wave of political violence during the election of the previous year.

Data from the 2023 Brazilian Yearbook of Public Security showed a dramatic rise in registered gun owners. From 117,467 registered gun owners in 2018, coinciding with Bolsonaro’s election, the figure rose to approximately 800,000.

In the last years, Brazil saw a growth in its gun culture, as he made it easier for “hunters, marksmen, or collectors” (CACs) to obtain permits and accumulate weapons. The executive order, however, reduces this accessibility.

Under the new regulation, a registered hunter can possess only six weapons, a significant reduction from the previous 30, which included up to 15 restricted firearms. Moreover, hunters will now have access to fewer bullets and will require clearance from the environmental protection agency, Ibama.

The new decree also transfers the responsibility of civilian weapons control from the army to the federal police, addressing previous criticisms of weak oversight, insufficient databases, lack of transparency, and poor information sharing by the military.

In terms of specific firearms, the 9mm handgun, a favourite among CAC permit holders, will no longer be accessible to civilians. The new law also eliminates a previous loophole that allowed gun owners to carry loaded weapons in public, as long as they claimed to be heading to a gun club.

While gun owners who bought their weapons during previous administration will not be obliged to surrender their firearms, the executive decree envisages a buyback programme, which is set to begin this year.

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