Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro kept one of his campaign promises on Tuesday by signing an executive order to relax his country’s 2003 firearms law.
Among other measures, the order will make it easier for Brazilians to import guns and buy large amounts of ammunition. Rural gun owners will be allowed to use their weapons anywhere on their own property, while sport shooters and hunters will be permitted to transport firearms from home to their shooting clubs or hunting grounds.
“It is an individual right of the one who may want to have a firearm or seek the possession of a firearm,” Bolsonaro said when signing the order.
“Public security starts inside your home,” he said.
The Associated Press reports Bolsonaro was “surrounded by supporting lawmakers who applauded and made finger-gun gestures with their hands” at the signing ceremony, an image that would likely cause fits among gun-control enthusiasts in the U.S.
Gun ownership in Brazil still has a number of requirements, but Bolsonaro relaxed one of them early in his presidency by rescinding the requirement to submit formal justification for owning a gun to the Federal Police.
“Supporters say the moves will help Brazilians defend themselves amid rising crime rates. Brazil’s murder rate is three times higher than the level considered by the United Nations to be endemic violence,” Deutsche Welle reported.
Bolsonaro, a former paratrooper, promised to enhance the ability of citizens to defend themselves against crime during his campaign. He spoke often of relaxing or repealing the 2003 firearms law, which made civilian ownership of guns all but impossible.
Criminals and paramilitary organizations in Brazil have very little trouble arming themselves with smuggled weapons. Drug gangs consider themselves a more effective fighting force than the Brazilian army and attack almost at will, committing murders and destroying vital infrastructure. Entire cities have been shut down by the chaos. In March, a drug gang opened fire on a passing military convoy that happened to be carrying uranium for a nuclear power plant.
Brazilian gunmaker Taurus Armas SA reported a 21 percent surge in its stock price on Wednesday after the decree was signed, which might seem counterintuitive because Bolsonaro explicitly wants to open up gun imports and break up the monopoly Taurus currently enjoys. Company CEO Salesio Nuhs said he hoped Bolsonaro’s administration will “really bring growth for our country.”