“Everyday, everywhere you look, the criminal is armed with a high-powered weapon as the citizen tries to hide,” Rogerio Peninha Mendonca, the lawmaker behind the proposal, said in an interview. “What we want is for the citizen to be more capable of defending himself.”
The idea runs counter to recent calls in the U.S. for greater gun control, as well as the global trend towards restricting access to firearms that’s seen Australia, the U.K, Canada, New Zealand and Germany tighten their laws in recent decades.
Forty-two percent of Brazilians believe gun ownership is a citizen’s right, according to a November survey by pollster Datafolha. That’s up from 30 percent four years earlier. And of the lower house lawmakers who have expressed opinions publicly, slightly more than half support the proposed legislation, according to a scoreboard maintained by Peninha’s staff.
Fellow lawmaker Bolsonaro, a former Army captain, has been preaching the gospel of gun rights as part of his law-and-order pitch to voters. In polls he trails only former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who will likely be barred from running.
Brazil’s gun policy needs to change, Bolsonaro said at an event in Congress on March 7. He drew cheers from his supporters when he joked that the so-called “bullet caucus” of lawmakers united by their tough stance on crime should be renamed the “machine gun caucus.”
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