The Flexibilization of the Legislation for the Acquisition and Carrying of Firearms
The relaxation of the gun legislation was one of the main pillars of Bolsonaro’s rhetoric during his election campaign. As one of his first acts in office, Bolsonaro established per presidential decree that adult citizens are now allowed to acquire up to four firearms, as long as they are older than 25 years, legally employed, have no outstanding criminal prosecutions or have been convicted, have a fixed residence and have a technical and psychological capacity to use the weapon.
With the new decree from 7 May, not only the requirements for the acquisition, but also for the carrying of weapons were relaxed. According to the new text, not only arms collectors, sport shooters and hunters, but also lawyers, truck drivers and elected politicians – from municipal councilors to the president – are exempted from proving their necessity for carrying a weapon, and are allowed to carry a loaded weapon while exercising their profession.
The Anti-Crime Package and the Relaxation of Penalties for Excesses Committed in Armed Operations
In addition to the changes in the gun legislation, Justice Minister Sérgio Moro presented a so-called “anti-crime” law package in February, with proposals for changes in 14 laws related to issues of public security and criminal enforcement. Currently in progress in the Brazilian Congress, the new proposals include modifications for the penalization of so-called “excesses in self-defense”, containing the potential to enhance immunity over police killings and violence.
The current legislation understands self-defense as the possibility for the use of force in order to “repel unjust aggression, current or imminent”. According to the new proposal, any security agent who “prevents unjust and imminent aggression at his or her right, in armed conflict or at imminent risk of armed conflict” is acting in self-defense. This formulation would allow the judge not only to relax penalties for excesses committed in armed operations, but could even enhance impunity over police killings.
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