New Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has signed a decree to loosen gun laws throughout the country, despite public safety experts concern, a decree that makes it easier for Brazilians to have guns in their homes, as well as waives old standing safety checks such as federal police approval. In addition, Bolsonaro increased the validity period of gun licenses from five to ten years.
These changes come with significant backlash from the Brazilian Public Service Reform, which conducts annual violence statistics for Brazil along with other civil society groups. Their research has found that Brazil has one of the highest murder rates in the world. Many experts warn that this new decree will only lead to more deaths and violence within the country. Despite this concern, Bolsonaro has gained popularity among the people through this campaign, as more Brazilian than ever are seeking gun access. In fact, 33,000 new gun owners have been registered since 2007.
This rise in gun owners and access is particularly concerning for women. In the last year, Brazil has seen a 6.1% rise in female murders. Campaigners against the decree point out that over half of those women were killed by a firearm. Because of this, non-governmental groups warn that domestic violence could see a rise with the instatement of this decree. In Brazil, women are disproportionately affected by gun violence in communities where violence is already common.
Although stricter punishment has been in effect for men who commit femicide in Brazil, an estimated one third of girls and women still report acts of violence. Furthermore, Brazilian women are less likely than other cultures to report incidents to the police. This stems from the historic mistreatment of domestic violence cases as well as lack of support for victims by the police and government systems. Activist groups argue that machismo culture has contributed to creating an environment that aggravates and encourages actions of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Media Resources: Guardian 2019; Human Rights Watch 2018; Brazilian Public Service Reform 2017; Feminist Newswire 2015