Brazil to end restrictions on gun ownership

Published October 31, 2015
Sao Paulo (Brazil): A woman handles a pistol at a gun shop in Sao Caetano do Sul on Friday. Brazil has one of the highest murder toll on the planet.—AFP
Sao Paulo (Brazil): A woman handles a pistol at a gun shop in Sao Caetano do Sul on Friday. Brazil has one of the highest murder toll on the planet.—AFP

RIO DE JANEIRO: Brazil, which has one of the highest murder tolls on the planet, could soon end most restrictions on gun ownership, risking what one critic called a “Wild West” scenario.

A draft law stripping away current limits has already been approved in committee and is due to go to the lower house of Congress in November.

Under the law, anyone over 21, including people accused of crimes or convicted of less than serious crimes, would be allowed to purchase up to nine firearms a year and 50 rounds of ammunition a month.

State employees and public figures, ranging from government inspectors to politicians, would be authorised to carry arms, as would private citizens often in the public eye such as taxi drivers.

At present, weapons can only be bought legally by people obtaining a license on a case-by-case basis.

Supporters say freeing up gun sales will allow people to protect themselves in a country plagued by violent robbery and intense confrontations between drug gangs and police, with some 40,000 gun-related deaths a year.

“Our proposal is to guarantee the good citizen’s right to self-defence”, said the law’s author Laudivio Carvalho, from the powerful centrist PMDB party.

But opponents fear that Brazil’s orgy of gun violence would simply spin further out of control.

“It’s a return to the Wild West,” said Ivan Valente, a deputy from the leftist PSOL party.

Published in Dawn, October 31st, 2015

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