Brazil's Bolsonaro eases rules for gun enthusiasts

Brasília (AFP) –


Brazil's far-right President Jair Bolsonaro signed a decree Tuesday making it easier for gun enthusiasts to own, carry and import weapons in one of the world's deadliest countries.

Beaming members of Congress and industry lobbyists clapped and made pistol signs with their hands as the ex-army captain relaxed rules that critics fear could pave the way for the carrying of weapons in the streets.

"I always said public security starts at home," Bolsonaro told a gathering in the capital Brasilia.

A summary of the decree released to reporters said sports shooters, hunters and collectors would be allowed to travel with a weapon, while all licensed gun owners would be permitted to buy up to 5,000 rounds of ammunition a year, depending on the type of weapon.

It also promises the "debureaucratization" for the importation of arms and ammunition -- long demanded by global manufacturers and fans of foreign brands -- which was aimed at "stimulating competition, rewarding quality and safety."

Limits on the "amount and quality" purchased by public security institutions would also be scrapped, the document said without specifying if it was referring to guns or ammunition or both.

"We went to the limit of the law, we did not go over the law," Bolsonaro said.

Brazil had 64,000 murders in 2017 -- a rate of almost 31 per 100,000 inhabitants, or three times higher than the level the United Nations classifies as endemic violence.

The decree has created a "breach" that makes it easier for anyone to own a weapon, said Caio Pizetta Torres, a security specialist at Control Risks.

Bolsonaro controversially passed a law relaxing gun ownership rules soon after assuming power in January, delivering on a campaign promise.

He has also spoken out in favor of allowing people to carry weapons on the streets, but that will require the support of Congress to change the law.

Bolsonaro reiterated Tuesday that his latest decree stemmed from a 2005 referendum organized by the left in which nearly 64 percent of Brazilians rejected a law that included, among other things, a total ban on the sale of arms.

Foreign and domestic arms makers have been hoping that Bolsonaro's rise to power would translate into looser laws and greater government spending in the sector.