The Stream

Will arming Brazilians make the country safer?

Domestic violence survivors campaign against Bolsonaro’s gun law proposals.

Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, is making good on a campaign promise to loosen the country’s gun laws. Last month, just days after taking office, he signed a decree making it easier for Brazilians to own a gun by waiving a requirement to prove the need for a firearm at home.

There are concerns, though, that in a country with one of the world’s highest murder rates, the move will only lead to an increase in violence. A recent survey by the polling group Datafolha found that six out of 10 Brazilians were opposed to liberalising gun laws.

In 2017, there were 63,880 murders with about 43,000 carried out with a gun – almost three times the number of gun-related homicides in the United States in the same year. However, proponents of liberalising Brazil’s gun laws point out the number of guns in Brazil stands in stark contrast to the US. According to the Igarape Institute, there were 8.3 guns for every 100 people in Brazil in 2017, compared to 120.5 in the US.

Advocates for tougher gun laws have been particularly vocal on social media. Since Bolsonaro’s decree, domestic violence survivors have been using the hashtag SeEleEstivesseArmado (“If he had been armed”) to express the belief that, had their attacker had access to a gun, they would be dead.

So what does changing Brazil’s gun laws really mean for the country? We’ll pose that question to our panel on this episode of The Stream. 

On this episode of the Stream, we speak with:

Rafael Alcadipani @rafaelalcadipan
Associate, Fórum Brasileiro de Segurança Pública (Brazilian Forum on Public Security)

Mia Alberti @mialberti

Paulo Bilynskyj 
Police officer, São Paulo Civil Police – Homicide Division

Read more: 
Brazil’s Bolsonaro relaxes gun ownership law – Al Jazeera 
‘We are afraid’: Brazilian women alarmed at relaxation of gun laws – The Guardian 

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