Brazil ended 2022 with the mark of 2.9 million weapons in private collections, showed a new survey by the Sou da Paz and Igarapé institutes. This is a volume that represents more than double the 1.3 million private weapons that existed in the country in 2018, before the government of former President Jair Bolsonaro, whose management endorsed a series of flexibility in acquisitions of the type.
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The survey carried out by the organizations uses the Access to Information Law to unify national records of these weapons. The following groups are considered in the research “weapons in private collections”: hunters, sport shooters and collectors (the CACs); ordinary citizens registered for self-defense; subsistence hunters; civil servants (such as police and civil guards) with carrying prerogatives and who purchased weapons for personal use and members of military institutions (military police, military firefighters) who purchased weapons for personal use.
The document draws attention to the higher prevalence of CACs among private gun holders. By comparison, in 2018 only 26.6% of this type of article was under the responsibility of this group. Now, the CACs represent 42.5% of those who own weapons, becoming the largest share of the holders of these private collections. 25% of the military have private weapons and another 32.9% are those who requested weapons for self-defense from the Military Police.
The data from the new survey are cause for alarm, especially when another study by the organization is in view: which shows the modernization of weapons in the hands of organized crime in recent years. Between 2017 and 2022, according to a survey released in the second half of last year, the share of rifles among seized weapons jumped 50% in São Paulo and 16% in Rio de Janeiro. While pistols, also authorized for civilians by the former president, increased by 31% in São Paulo and 32% in Rio.
Access to more powerful weapons by civilians has been facilitated since 2017, during the Michel Temer administration, and especially in the Bolsonaro government. During the Temer government, the Army released the so-called “transit carry” for sport shooters, which allowed the category to carry a handgun loaded and ready for use when traveling to competitions and training. In practice, the move marked the beginning of a race to obtain a marksman’s license.
In the Bolsonaro administration, in turn, there were more than 40 measures to facilitate the purchase, carrying and expansion of types of weapons, calibers and accessories available to civilians, as well as increasing arsenal limits. The changes increased the power of weapons released to civilians by four times.
Part of this scenario, however, was temporarily quelled after a decree by current President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) on his first day of work. In the determination, several changes were made to the weapons policy. Among them is the suspension of new registrations by shooting clubs and collectors, shooters, and hunters (group known as CACs). The number of weapons each person can buy has also been reduced from six to three.
This increase brings a very significant impact. First, because the weapons in the hands of the military, even if not in an institutional way, are with a group that is trained for this. It has some control binding. Access to weapons has been greatly relaxed, but we have not seen the same increase in safeguard control as we had before. For example, shooters had classes within the category. Access to other types of weaponry depended on your progression in the sport. In the last four years this progression was removed to large caliber weapons, allowing collections to quickly become more powerful. Apprehensions in São Paulo and Rio already show this effect. This could represent a risk due to diversion or even legal acquisitions for illegal resale, which have already been seen many times.