The number of registered gun owners in Brazil rose by almost six times since President Jair Bolsonaro came to power and eased restrictions, an NGO said on Tuesday.
In 2018, when Bolsonaro began his mandate, there were 117,467 gun owners registered as hunters, sport shooters and collectors, according to Army figures collected by the Brazilian Forum of Public Security (FBSP) NGO. In June 2022 that figure had jumped to 673,818.
"There was a very big increase in the number of firearms in circulation in the country under the Bolsonaro government," Renato Sergio de Lima, the FBSP president, told AFP.
FBSP estimates that there are 4.4 million privately owned firearms in Brazil, based on Army and Federal Police data. Those two bodies are the ones that issue gun registrations to civilians.
"The problem is that a third of those [1.5 million] are in an irregular situation, with their registration elapsed," said Lima.
That makes it impossible to know if the weapons remain with their legal owners or whether they have found their way into the hands of criminals, FBSP said.
Since coming to power, ex-Army captain Bolsonaro has issued several decrees softening restrictions on gun ownership, such as increasing the number of weapons and amount of ammunition people can own.
Some of those decrees are being studied by the supreme court to decide whether or not they were constitutional.
In its public security annual, FBSP said Brazil registered 47,503 murders amongst its 213 million population in 2021, a drop of 6.5 percent on 2020.
"But this good news hides an extremely perverse reality, that in 2020 Brazil accounted for one in every five intentional violent murders on the planet, according to UN data," despite making up just 2.7 percent of the world's population.