Socialist Brazilian President Orders Nationwide Confiscation of Guns Following Surge in Sales

Brazil’s newly inaugurated leftist President Lula Ignacio da Silva has begun a process to take back guns from citizens following a spike in gun sales towards the end of Jair Bolsonaro’s presidency.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Lula had already reversed looser Bolsonaro gun restrictions and planned to make firearm owners register or face arrest.

After winning the presidential election last year in contentious circumstances, Lula declared that it was time to lay down your weapons. “Guns kill, but we choose life.”

Lula has given gun owners the ultimatum to bring their guns to the nearest police station by March 31, for inspection and registration in a national database.

Flavio Dino (Brazilian justice minister) told the Journal that Lula will issue a presidential decree requiring owners to surrender firearms exceeding the new rule of three per person.

Dino stated that any gun not declared would be considered an illegal weapon and that they will be committing a crime. He added that two to four years imprisonment plus an unlimited fine could be the result.

According to the Brazilian think-tank, the Igarape Institute around 1.6 Million guns were bought during Bolsonaro’s term, which is more than half the national firearms total.

Paulo Bilynskyj, the federal deputy of the country’s center-right Liberal Party, was one of those who criticized the new rule and declared it unconstitutional.

Ordinance 299 created a new crime: the crime of not renewing your firearm registration. This new crime violates the principle law of legality. A prior law must define a crime. Brazil has now introduced a new type of crime. This is a crime that can be created by an ordinance of the Ministry of Justice. Absolute violation of the Constitution.

Lula issued a separate decree immediately after taking office suspending all further registrations of guns for “hunting or sport,” and suspending new applications for gun clubs. It also reduces the number allowed per person from six to three firearms.

This gun-grabbing push is despite Brazil’s lowest level of homicides for 15 years at the end of the Bolsonaro presidency. This comes just a few years after South America reported the most homicides of any country in 2017 (the world). Anti-gun campaigners claim that gun murders are already on the decline.

Brazil’s gun laws were relatively liberal up until Lula’s first term. Lula’s 2003 gun control policies saw millions surrender their guns. This was the year he became president. Lula claimed that the policy was needed to lower crime rates.

The country held a referendum in 2005 where 64% of Brazilians voted against a ban on firearm sales. However, these restrictions were still in place when Michel Temer became president.