Brazil: Lula tightens gun control amid surge in ownership


The new controls fulfill a campaign promise from Lula

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has signed an order to tighten gun control in an attempt to stem a rise in firearms ownership.

Under Lula’s far-right predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, there was an almost sevenfold increase in registered users.

Limits will be placed on stockpiles of weapons and ammunition, while certain weapons, including nine millimeter handguns, will be banned.

The new controls fulfill a campaign promise from Lula.

The president blamed a wave of political violence during last year’s presidential election on looser gun control.

“We will continue to fight for fewer weapons in our country. Only the police and the army must be well armed,” Lula said as he unveiled the new tougher measures.

The announcement comes after several recent school shootings in a country that recorded an average of more than five murders per hour in 2022, according to the Public Security Forum, an NGO.

Brazil has nearly 800,000 registered gun owners, up from less than 120,000 in 2018, when Mr. Bolsonaro was elected, according to the 2023 Brazilian Yearbook of Public Security.

The country has no constitutional right to bear arms.

But under a decree passed by Mr Bolsonaro in 2019, Brazilians were allowed to own up to four guns, while others were allowed to carry loaded firearms in public under certain conditions.

The decree also raised the amount of ammunition that people could buy from 50 to 5,000 rounds for permitted weapons and up to 1,000 rounds for use in restricted weapons.

The new restrictions will see a registered hunter allowed to own six guns instead of the previous 30 – including up to 15 firearms.

“It is one thing for a citizen to have a gun at home for protection and security … but we cannot allow there to be arsenals of weapons in people’s hands,” Lula said in his speech.

Civilian weapons oversight is being transferred from the army to Brazil’s federal police after criticism of weak oversight.

Gun owners who bought their guns under Mr Bolsonaro will not be forced to give them up, but a buyback program could start this year.

Sir. Bolsonaro claims that guns make Brazil safer, pointing to a lower homicide rate during his tenure.

The former president has been barred from running for office for eight years after being found guilty of abusing his power ahead of last year’s presidential election.

He had been accused of undermining Brazilian democracy by falsely claiming that the electronic ballots used were vulnerable to hacking and fraud.

The bitterly fought election took place on October 30 and was won by a narrow margin by Lula.

Sir. Bolsonaro never publicly acknowledged his defeat and left Brazil for Florida two days before Lula was sworn in as president.

The former president’s supporters, who refused to accept the outcome of the election, stormed Brazil’s Congress, the presidential palace and the building that houses the Supreme Court on January 8.

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