Brazil had the highest amount of gun-related deaths in the world during 2016, reports U.S. News according to a study from the University of Washington. In fact, the country underwent a school shooting on March 13 that killed 10 people and injured 11 others, says the Wall Street Journal.
This attack is among the five deadliest school shootings that Brazil has ever had. According to police officer Ruy Ferras Fontes, the attackers wanted to reproduce the Columbine High School shooting that took place in the United States.
The school’s surveillance camera footage partially caught the attack, reports the Washington Post. The video shows one of the attackers, Guilherme Monteiro, shooting several people in the head, while de Castro, the other attack, strikes wounded people. Despite other high rates of violence, school shootings like this are rare in Brazil.
Before this shooting, Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s current President, promised to loosen regulations regarding gun ownership while campaigning for president. While Mr. Bolsonaro lamented the shooting on Twitter, his government passed a decree in January that facilitated the possession of guns inside houses, reports the Guardian.
Mr. Bolsonaro claimed that the purpose of the decree is to guarantee every citizen the legitimate right to self-defense, says Reuters. The decree applies to countryside areas and urban areas with homicide rates above 10 deaths for 100,000 people. With the decree, Brazilians can have up to four guns or even more after an individual case evaluation.
Even after the massacre, Mr. Bolsonaro’s administration still advocates for more liberal gun policies as the solution for endemic violence, says the Wall Street Journal in a separate report. Indeed, Senator Flávio Bolsonaro, the president’s son, introduced a bill in Congress to increase foreign manufacturers’ access to the national gun industry a few hours after the shooting.
Nonetheless, other strict regulations for gun ownerships remain in national law, reports Bloomberg. It is still hard for civilians to carry guns legally, despite the existence of a large black market for illegal weapons and an estimated 60,000 murders per annum in Brazil.
According to World Politics Review, the most important part of Brazil’s gun legislation is the 2003 Disarmament Statue. This statue regulates the registration of firearms, requirements for gun licenses, ownership, and storage. In addition to the statue, civilians may not carry guns in public without a permit.
Even though the federal police and armed forces do not fully implement the statue, Mapa da Violência and the Institute of Applied Economic Research, two Brazilian research institutes, believe that this statue helped saved 135,000 to 160,000 lives during 2004 and 2012, says the World Politics Review.
Despite Mr. Bolsonaro’s policies, most Brazilians do not want to purchase guns, says a study from the research institute IDEIA Big Data, according the Brazilian journal Último Segundo. During last December on a research pool, 70 percent of Brazilians said that they did not wish to buy a gun, 22 percent were not sure, and only 8 percent said that they plan to buy guns. Furthermore, a poll from the research institute Datafolha also indicated that 61 percent of Brazilians want to make it illegal to carry guns in public.