Brazil Presidential Race may Bring Reforms of Restrictive Gun Law

Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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Popular presidential candidate in Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, narrowly missed winning with a first-round election. In Brazil, there are multiple parties. The top two candidates have a run-off election for the presidency. If one candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, there is no run-off.

Jair Bolsonaro won the first round in a crowded field. With 46%, he almost won outright. The next nearest contender received 29%. From ft.com:

Former army captain Jair Bolsonaro won a resounding victory in the first round of Brazil’s presidential election, raising the prospect of a return of the far-right in a country struggling to emerge from recession and corruption scandals. 

Mr Bolsonaro, who espouses a crackdown on crime and a return to “traditional” family values, won roughly 46 per cent of the ballot as voters rejected Brazil’s political establishment. He now faces rival Fernando Haddad from the leftist Workers’ party, who won nearly 29 per cent of the vote, in a second round on October 28. Mr Bolsonaro needed over 50 per cent of the valid votes to win an outright victory in the first round.

Brazilians are fed up with rampant crime and one of the highest murder rates in the world. Brazil instituted extremely restrictive gun laws in 2003, after gradually making it harder and harder to own and use guns since the 1980’s. Brazil’s already high homicide rate increased after the extreme gun laws were put in place.

Jain Bosonaro has supported reforms to place into law the right of people to have arms to defend themselves and their property. The laws would not be as protective as the United States Second Amendment.  The reforms would drop the age requirement for gun ownership from 25 to 21. They would eliminate many current restrictions on ownership. They would explicitly allow for arms ownership for the defense of self and property. From bloomberg.com:

One of the candidates leading the field for October’s 2018 presidential election — hardline conservative Jair Bolsonaro — has promised to allow law-abiding citizens to arm themselves, a popular pledge in the nation with by far the most homicides of the entire world. Even before then, Congress may debate legislation to overturn the “disarmament statute,” a law that severely restricts civilian ownership of guns, and virtually bans their carry. The proposal would allow Brazilians with clean criminal records who pass psychological and firearm exams to buy up to six weapons and to carry them.

Now that Bolsonaro is likely to win the Presidency, real reforms of the extreme gun laws are plausible.

Many commentators have referred to Captain Bolsonaro as “extreme” and right wing. Careful examination of his policies show that they are popular. They are only extreme when viewed from the far left. Captain Bolsonaro is compared to President Donald Trump. Few note that both Bolsonaro and Donald Trump promote the empowerment of the law-abiding middle class by championing their right to arms.

President Trump champions the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution. Captain Bolsonaro champions a return to more freedom to arms for Brazilians, such as existed before 1980. The Brazilian murder rate has more than tripled since 1980, while the U.S murder rate has dropped.

The correlation does not prove that guns are the cure for crime, or that more guns will reduce crime. It indicates that extreme gun control has no effect on crime.

 From independent.co.uk:

Mr Bolsonaro advocated loosening gun ownership laws so individuals can fight off criminals and said police should have a freer hand to use force.

“I voted against thievery and corruption,” said Mariana Prado, a 54-year-old human resources expert. “I know that everyone promises to end these two things, but I feel Bolsonaro is the only one can help end my anxieties.”

For law-abiding Brazilian citizens who have property, who do not benefit from crime, access to guns gives them reason to trust the state and the police.

The Brazilian government has shown severe problems with corruption. The government of Brazil needs to regain the trust of its people.

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