By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – After a wave of criticism, Brazil’s federal government this Wednesday published a new Decree changing the rules of the one issued on May 7th, which deals with the acquisition, registration, possession, and sale of firearms in the country.
In a statement, President Jair Bolsonaro’s office said that changes were determined by the President himself “due to issues questioned by the Judiciary, within the legislative branch and society in general”.
In interviews held during the day, Bolsonaro’s Justice and Public Security Minister tried to explain the change of heart by the Administration. “The Decree that was published today, to some extent, meets some of the criticism made regarding this Decree two weeks ago,” said Minister Sergio Moro during a TV interview on Wednesday.
Among the changes in this new Decree is the veto of the possession of rifles and shotguns by ordinary citizens. There were also changes relating to the possession of firearms by security forces, collectors, hunters, and shooters; to procedures for granting firearm permits, and to the rules for the transport of firearms on flights, which remain under the responsibility of the National Civil Aviation Agency.
Under the new Decree, acquiring weapons such as rifles and shotguns for rural property owners is allowed. The rule is valid only for those who have “ownership of the rural property and are engaged in farming, livestock, forestry or agribusiness” and will depend on a case-by-case evaluation by the Armed Forces.
The government’s new Decree also requires the Armed Forces to define, within the next 60 days, which weapons may be purchased by ordinary citizens. It is this listing that will define, for example, whether or not it is possible to buy a rifle.
Minors 14 years and older may attend firing ranges only with the written authorization of both parents or guardians. The previous decree did not stipulate a minimum age and required the approval of only one parent or guardian.
However, some items from the May 7th Decree remain. Ordinary citizens and collectors may buy up to five firearms. Collectors are allowed to buy five weapons of each model while hunters may buy 15 weapons.
On Tuesday, fourteen state governors had issued a letter against the Decree extending the carrying of weapons. In the document, the group says the Decree that extends the right of citizens to purchase and own weapons will increase violence in the country.
“These measures will have a negative impact on violence – by increasing, for example, the number of weapons and ammunition that could supply criminals – and increase the risk that fights between our citizens end in tragedies,” said the letter.
“We are waiting to be called by the federal government to discuss the public security policy of the country,” said Ceará’s governor, Camilo Santana (PT), one of the signers of the document, told G1 news website.
Amnesty International, a well-known NGO, had also called for the repeal of the text, alleging risks to the guarantees of the right to life, liberty, and safety of people.