By Richard Mann, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Children and adolescents will no longer need judicial authorization to practice shooting sports. The change was introduced in a recent decree from President Jair Bolsonaro that changed the rules of possession and use of firearms within the country.
According to the act, minors under 18 years of age will be able to shoot in practice-oriented clubs, only needing the authorization of one of their legal guardians. Previously, this group was only allowed to participate in shooting sports after receiving endorsement from a judge.
The excerpt that deals with the subject is in the chapter On the Possession of Firearms, and says: “The practice of shooting sports for minors under 18 years of age will be authorized in advance by one of their legal guardians, shall be restricted to only those sites authorized by Military Command, and the firearm belonging to the affiliation or the responsible party shall be used only when the minor is accompanied.”
The previous regulation, defined in Decree 5.123/2004, which was revoked by the new rule, established that “the practice of shooting sports for minors under the age of 18 years shall be authorized by a judge and restricted to places authorized by Military Command, the firearm belonging to the affiliation or the responsible party shall only be used when the minor is accompanied.”
According to lawyer Ariel de Castro Alves, a specialist in Child and Adolescent Rights and a member of the São Paulo State Human Rights Council, the change proposed in the decree is in disagreement with article 227 of the Constitution, which holds families responsible for protecting children and adolescents from all forms of violence. “The constitutionality of the decree may be questioned for exposing children to or instigating violence,” he said.
He states that judicial authorization was important for allowing the judge to evaluate the conditions of the family and the minor before deciding.
“The judge could ask the responsible parties to submit other documentation, such as a psychological report and proof of school enrollment. They could also check if the minor had a history of infractions,” he says.
Today, children and adolescents are accustomed to participating in shooting sports tournaments with pneumatic weapons.
Opposition parties and even parties that routinely vote together with the government, like the Citizenship Party, decided to resort to the Federal Supreme Court against the decree, which in their opinion is unconstitutional