Brazil judge halts parts of Bolsonaro's decrees to relax gun laws

Brasília (AFP) –


A judge on Brazil's Supreme Federal Court on Monday suspended parts of four decrees issued by President Jair Bolsonaro relaxing the country's gun control laws.

Bolsonaro issued the decrees on February 12, and they were to go into effect Tuesday. Justice Rosa Weber's decision regarding the decrees will be analyzed by the plenary of the court from Friday, along with other appeals filed by multiple groups against the right-wing president's arms policy.

Among other changes, Weber eliminated a section that increased the number of firearms Brazilian civilians can own from four to six. The section also would have allowed police and other security agents to own six to eight guns.

She also removed a section that authorized people to carry up to two guns in public, instead of one, and another part that increased the amount of ammunition that hunters and sport shooters can buy, as well as a section that allowed shooting organizations and schools to purchase unlimited ammunition.

There is "unequivocal correlation between the facilitation of the population's access to firearms and the diversion of these products to criminal organizations, militias and criminals in general, through robberies or clandestine trade, increasing even more the general indexes of patrimonial crimes, violent crimes and homicides," the justice wrote.

Bolsonaro, a former army captain, is an outspoken gun-rights advocate who regularly posts pictures on social media of himself at the shooting range.

He ran for office on a promise to arm "good people" to fight crime in Brazil, and regularly flashes his signature finger gun gesture to illustrate.

Gun-control advocates have been sharply critical.

Bolsonaro "has now published more than 30 decrees leading to a record increase in guns in circulation last year," said the Sou da Paz Institute in February when Bolsonaro issued the four latest decrees.

Weber's decision was hailed as a "great victory for Brazilian society" by Ilona Szabo, president of the Igarape Institute, which specializes in security and development issues.

According to the institute, there are 1.2 million civilian-owned firearms in Brazil, a country of 212 million people -- 65 percent more than at the end of 2018.