On November 23rd through 26th, Brazil, the largest country in South America, held another gun expo, only the second of its kind in the country.
Thousands gathered in Santa Catarina, a conservative-leaning state in the south, to show support for and practice their newfound freedoms, which many Brazilians claim is also the reason for the country’s decreased homicide rate over the past few years.
The Texas ExpoTiro 2022 was made possible only after the current Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro loosened restrictions on civilian firearm ownership beginning in 2019.
“Everyone Said there would be more homicides when Bolsonaro loosened the restrictions, but it turned out to be the opposite!” said Paulo de Silva, 25, while attending the expo per The Washington Post.
SEE ALSO: Brazil’s Answer to Crime — Loosen Gun Restrictions
This is the second expo held in the country and the first firearms expo that Brazilian citizens have been permitted to attend.
Firearms enthusiasts traveled from far and wide to learn, train, and show support for their budding freedoms.
Marcelo Venera, a retired military police chief and the executive director of the expo, stated the event was named “after the most gun-loving state [in America],” and said, “we are here to show that we are good people and there is nothing wrong with loving guns!”
Over the four-day show, the expo provided booths for firearms manufacturers such as Glock and Taurus, Brazil’s largest domestic manufacturer, as well as lectures from gun-advocate groups and training by firearms professionals and urban defense specialists.
Historically, private firearm ownership in Brazil has been highly restricted, reserved only for a select few citizens willing to undergo the extensive list of constraints. It included psychiatric evaluations, extensive background checks, and a requirement to join a shooting club.
Even after wading through miles of red tape and expensive bureaucratic checkpoints, the local police agency could simply say “no” because an applicant failed to provide adequate justification for firearm ownership.
Under President Jair Bolsonaro, the Latin-American country has seen these restrictions loosened via a dozen decrees, including reducing importation taxes on firearms, allowing civilians to purchase semiautomatic rifles such as AR-15s, and allowing sport shooters to purchase more firearms, increasing the number from 16 to 60.
With these decrees, private firearm ownership has nearly doubled since 2018. Additionally, the homicide rate has been on a steady decline, resulting in a 27% decrease from 2017 to 2022.
Advocates like President Bolsonaro, Paulo de Silva, and Verena claim this is a direct result of increased private firearms ownership.
Critics claim there are other factors that lead to the decrease, such as a reduction in cartel turf battles which reached a crescendo in 2017, and the country’s aging population. They further allege that the new policies have cost thousands of lives.
Expo attendees like Paulo Bonoso and his wife Erika claim to have had their minds “opened” by the new laws.
Numerous expo attendees now claim that they need personal firearms to protect themselves, especially in rural areas where the police presence is minimal.
Juliana Lopes, a military police major and shooting instructor, said, “What’s happened with firearms is the same as what happened with the microwave oven. It entered people’s homes… and has become a survival tool.”
The Future of Gun Rights For Brazilians
Gun laws in Brazil are still far more restrictive than in the United States. With firearm prices triple what they are in the U.S. and with an extensive issuing process still in place, firearm ownership is still a right largely reserved for the middle and upper classes.
Additionally, after the 2022 presidential elections held in October, President Bolsonaro is set to return the seat to former President Luiz Inácio Lula de Silva on January 1st. Lula’s advisors have stated he recognizes that once rights have been granted, it is challenging to take them away, but he still plans to reverse as many of Bolsonaro’s policies as he can.
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