Brazil Considers Scaling Back Its Gun Control

From endorsing Brazil’s military regime to fashioning himself as the Brazilian Donald Trump, Brazilian presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro has a flair for generating controversy. According to a report from Reuters, Bolsonaro is considering the relaxation of Brazil’s strict gun laws. For a country besieged by street violence, Bolsonaro’s proposal is a breath of fresh air.

Brazil Has a Violence Problem

Brazil features some of the most violent cities on the planet. According to a recent ranking from the Citizen's Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice (CCSPJP), 19 of these cities are located in Brazil. With a rate of 30.8 homicides per 100,000 people in 2017, Brazil is one of the most violent countries in Latin America.

Organized crime and feuds between rival gangs have contributed to the alarming levels of violence throughout the country. But criminal elements are not alone in this violence equation. Heavy-handed security measures have also played a role in Brazil’s ever-rising homicide rates.

Traditionally a function of individual states, Brazilian armed forces recently took control of public security in Rio de Janeiro. Current president Michel Temer rationalized this extreme measure arguing that “circumstances demand it.”

In Brazil, the use of military force to battle crime is nothing new The country already enjoys notoriety for its infamous favelas (slums) that are rife with gang violence. As a result, military and well-armed security forces have been deployed on numerous occasions to quell violence. So far, the war-like struggle between gangs and security forces has produced a significant body count.

According to figures from Gunpolicy.org, Brazil had approximately 45,000 firearms homicides in 2014 alone. Even with a tough government response, there appears to be no end in sight to Brazil’s crime problems.

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