The Brazilian military will soon revolutionize the national arms market. Although the military regulations on gun control date back to the 1930s, President Temer has proposed changes to the text.
The new regulations will permit the importation of revolvers, rifles, and certain types of pistols. For example, the .380, .40, and .45 caliber pistols will provide greater firepower for public security organs.
Despite strong lobbying in the 1990s, these recent regulations combat the national industry’s efforts to keep out foreign arms. Specifically, the military forwarded changes in article 190 of the R-105 (regulations for controlled products). The Defense Ministry and Civil House are still discussing the finalization of these changes.
The Directory of Fiscalization of Controlled Products (DFPC) changed the text to allow for guns as long as they did not serve “a final use for the Armed Forces” – no missiles, canons, etc. In other words, the market has officially opened to so-called “light weapons”: rifles, revolvers, and certain types of pistols.
Open to interpretation
Regulations prohibit any purchase of “similar” gun products from abroad. However, the details on what constitutes a “similar” product ultimately fall upon the military itself. In fact, the military administration argues that prohibition itself is a question of interpretation.
“It’s up to purely subjective interpretation on the part of the Military, that doesn’t leave any clear criteria as to what is ‘similar’,” said Humberto Fernandes, the president of the Brazilian Confederation of Shooting and Hunting (CTCB).
Foreign gun purchase controls also generated controversy back in 2004, when ex-president Lula da Silva signed the Disarmament Statute to specify these restrictions. The statute became known as the “Taurus Amendment”, named for the largest gun producer in Latin America.
The “Forjas Taurus” company has belonged to the Brazilian Company of Cartridges (CBC) since 2014 and holds a monopoly on the national arms market. As a result, the company can sell weapons to the military at extremely high prices. For example, the same ammunition box sold at $6 abroad costs the Brazilian Armed Forces about $40.
In addition to overpricing, the national military has questioned the quality of the Taurus guns. The military registered at least 90 incidents of the guns locking or going off on their own without pulling the trigger since 2005. After conducting a full investigation into the equipment, certain Taurus products were pulled off the market last October.
Currently, the Brazilian Disarmament Statute restricts the purchase and possession of arms to active professionals, with the exception of certain persons who can prove the need for physical protection due to specific risks or threats. However, the Lower House is evaluating new measures which would permit the possession of guns to any citizen over 21. According to national crime data, over 880,000 people died in Brazil from gunfire between 1980 and 2012.