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Brazil's new left-wing president starts gun control push with country-wide gun registration

Brazil’s recently elected left-wing President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is pushing new gun control regulations on the country’s gun owners, requiring all of them to register each of their firearms with the police.

The massive gun registration program comes after his predecessor, former President Jair Bolsonaro, ran his campaign on a pro-gun platform and, once in office, rolled back regulations on private gun ownership. He also changed the rules for how much ammunition a person could own and eased access to restricted-caliber guns.

Bolsonaro also repeatedly claimed that “an armed populace will never be enslaved,” according to The Associated Press.

Now, Lula is working to unravel Bolsonaro’s pro-gun policies.

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A man holding a rifle

A gun owner holds a weapon as a police officer registers his firearms with the Federal Police on the deadline given by Brazil’s government for gun registration with the National Weapons System of the Federal Police, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday, April 3, 2023.  (AP Photo/Bruna Prado)

The government has said in-person registration could help determine precisely how many guns are in the country and potentially how many are no longer with their original owners or may have fallen into criminal hands.

On Jan. 1, which was Lula’s first day in office, he issued a decree requiring gun owners to register their weapons with the Federal Police. The original deadline was delayed until May 3.

The decree stated guns not registered by the deadline can be seized.

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A person handing over a handgun

A federal police officer, right, receives a pistol from a gun owner to register on the deadline given by Brazil’s government for gun registration with the National Weapons System of the Federal Police, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday, April 3, 2023.  (AP Photo/Bruna Prado)

Gun owners who failed to register their firearms with the Federal Police could also find themselves in legal jeopardy, should they be found with an unregistered weapon.

The registration, although met with hesitation, has prompted compliance. Officers at Rio’s Federal Police headquarters said as many as 50 people per day have registered their guns. Many have done so begrudgingly, they said.

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Marcelo Daemon, the head of the Rio police’s department overseeing arms control, told The AP there was “a lot of concern primarily at the beginning when they arrived here.”

“They believed we were going to confiscate their guns,” he continued.

Someone shooting a handgun

Mauricio Miranda takes shooting lessons at a club in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Some politicians have also contributed to this reluctance.

Gun registration in Brazil is not new as its army previously gathered and retained data on gun ownership for sport shooters, collectors and hunters, known as CACs (Portuguese for “Colecionadores, Atiradores desportivos e Caçadores”).

Army data shows a surge of 762,365 firearms being purchased by CACs since May 7, 2019, when Bolsonaro promoted gun ownership.

Jair Bolsonaro

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro points his fingers as if they were guns as he addresses the opening of the National Mayor’s Meeting in Brasilia, Brazil, Tuesday, April 26, 2022.  (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

The number of privately-owned guns nearly tripled under Bolsonaro, according to the Instituto Sou da Paz, a public security non-profit.

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Carolina Ricardo, the non-profit’s executive director, said additional gun control measures the government could enact include new rules limiting the ammunition and guns each person can possess. Lula could also hope to consolidate gun information within the army and Federal Police databases.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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