RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Brazilian supreme court judge Rosa Weber, appointed by Dilma Rousseff, said Friday that President Jair Bolsonaro and his Justice Ministry had five days to respond to opposition assertions that a recently passed gun decree was unconstitutional.
The decree presented on May 7th widely loosens the country’s strict gun laws by expanding the ability of Brazilians to sell, access, and carry firearms, in a move that some critics have qualified as “the most devastating gun reform” in decades.
Igarape, a Brazilian think tank, said this “death decree” considerably increases the number of people that could carry firearms without prior authorization from the federal police, further increasing violence in the world’s leader in total annual homicides.
A day after Bolsonaro signed his decree, surrounded by supporting lawmakers who made finger-gun gestures with their hands, the Sustainability Network party filed a petition with the Supreme Federal Tribunal.
In the document, the political party argues the decree constitutes an “abuse of regulatory power by the executive” and that it should have been passed by Congress. They say Brazil’s Constitution stipulates that it is for Congress to legislate on the possession, carrying, and registering of firearms.
The decree’s measures “clearly go against the spirit of the Disarmament Statute,” the Sustainability Network party wrote, referring to the existing 2003 law on firearms.
Both the Senate and lower house agreed. The decree is “invading the prerogatives of parliamentary members,” House Speaker Rodrigo Maia said on Wednesday, asking for the reversal of specific points.
Bolsonaro said on Friday that if the decree was unconstitutional, it should cease to exist. But hours later, he told an enthusiastic crowd in the state of Paraná: “We are not retreating in front of those that since forever have said they are security experts.”