Brazil: Senate Moves to Challenge Socialist President’s Extreme Gun Control Decree

Brazilian Senator Luis Carlos Heinze introduced a bill on Monday that seeks to suspend the new “Responsible Gun Control” decree issued by radical leftist President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva last week.

Lula’s gun control decree rolls back policies implemented during the administration of former President Jair Bolsonaro. It forbids citizens from obtaining certain types of firearms, reduces the total number of firearms that a civilian can purchase, and decreases the duration of firearm permits. The decree also limits the amount of ammunition that citizens can purchase per year and imposes restrictions on shooting clubs, hunters, marksmen, and firearm collectors.

The decree also establishes a series of guidelines to transfer authority over the regulation and inspection of civilian firearms from the Brazilian army to the federal police, granting the police force exclusive power over civilian activities involving weapons and ammunition in the country alongside Brazil’s Justice and Public Security Ministry.

“That is why we will continue to fight for a disarmed country,” Lula said last week during the signing of the new decree. “It is the Brazilian police who have to be well armed, it is the Brazilian armed forces who have to be well armed.”

According to the senator, the decree “violates several constitutional and legal provisions,” while going beyond the powers attributed to the executive branch of government. The senator also argued that the decree “ignores shooting as a sporting practice” by reducing the amount of purchasable ammunition per year.

“The text transfers duties from the Army to the Federal Police, totally outside the Disarmament Statute,” Heinze said. “The Lula government is going against the wishes of the population. The 2005 referendum shows that 63.94 percent of Brazilians voted against disarmament. The popular will must be respected.”

The senator’s statements refer to a national referendum held in 2005, during Lula’s first presidential term, in which Brazilian citizens voted overwhelmingly against banning gun and ammunition sales. About 64 percent voted againt doing so, while about 36 percent supported the move.

The decree signed by Lula last week forbids civilians from legally obtaining 9mm, .40, and .45 Automatic Colt Pistols (ACP), as well as semi-automatic smoothbore firearms, overturning Bolsonaro’s policies that allowed for the sale of those types of firearms to citizens. The Brazilian government announced that it will implement a buyback program for the now banned firearms this year.

Heinze also criticized the Brazilian federal government’s attempt to disarm the population without presenting projects for public safety.

“What we have today is a Minister of Justice who is, all the time, on the platform and does not present results,” Heinze said when presenting the bill. “It is necessary to act with due seriousness.”

Reversing Bolsonaro’s flexibilization of firearm access for Brazilian citizens was one of Lula da Silva’s sterner campaign promises. In January, the radical leftist president began to roll back Bolsonaro’s gun-related policies within the first hours of his third presidential term.

Heinze’s bill accuses Lula of violating the Brazilian Disarmament Statute bt stripping the army of its regulatory functions over civilian firearms and transferring them to the Federal Police. Heinze also argued that the decree constitutes an “illegal intervention of the government in an economic activity, which generates jobs and helps in the growth of the Gross Domestic Product.”

“The ban on the sale of weapons, ammunition and supplies for reloading throughout the national territory will harm thousands of entrepreneurs, importers and the industry itself,” Heinze stated.

The Senator introduced a similar bill in January that sought to reverse Lula’s initial limitations on Bolsonaro’s gun policies.

Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.