By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – State deputies of Rio de Janeiro’s legislative assembly approved a bill that allows them to carry firearms by 44 votes in favor versus 11 against.
However, the bill has already proven controversial, with PSOL federal deputy Marcelo Freixo tweeting, “One day, a family is shot by military personnel with 80 bullets. The next day, ten people die in the rains because of the city’s neglect. And what do the state deputies do in face of these tragedies? They approve a bill to arm themselves. It’s immoral! We’re going to appeal in court.”
The bill, originally written to arm DEGASE (General Department for Socioeducative Measures) agents who deal with seized minors, was modified by PSC’s Márcio Pacheco, chairman of the Comissão de Constituição e Justiça (Constitution and Justice Commission).
Luiz Paulo from PSDB compared the amendment to Frankenstein.
As reported by Forum, the proposed bill now covers the arming of the following categories of people: state deputies, DEGASE agents, Alerj (Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro) security guards, and legislative police, as well as state and municipal tax auditors.
Folha de São Paulo notes that the bill states that weapons should be kept in secure locations when the professionals are in service and that it still needs to be sanctioned by state governor Wilson Witzel, who has fifteen business days to decide.
President Jair Bolsonaro has made easing of gun restrictions one of the main tenets of his mandate, and in January he signed a decree allowing for easier access to guns.
According to The Independent, in 2017, over 300,000 civilians in Brazil were legally registered to possess a gun. The Ministry of Justice estimates, however, that there may be 8-9 million illegal firearms in Brazil.