Everyone in Brazil should buy a rifle, the country’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro has said.
He also said on Friday that those who oppose guns should stop nagging gun buyers.
The president has already relaxed gun laws to allow more Brazilians to own firearms for self-defence, citing an increase in homicides.
Brazil had a 5 per cent increase in murders in 2020 compared to 2019, after two consecutive years of decline.
Mr Bolsonaro pledged to ease gun ownership rules during his election campaign and frequently suggested that Brazilians would be safer in their own homes if they owned a firearm despite surveys suggesting around two-thirds of Brazilians oppose liberalising gun laws.
However, the number of new firearms registrations in Brazil increased by 90 per cent in 2020 compared to the previous year.
Mr Bolsanaro scrapped his predecessor’s 2003 statute of disarmament law, which permitted the sale of guns but restricted who could buy and carry firearms.
Only law enforcement officers with a special permit, including the armed forces, police and prison guards, were allowed to do so.
Under his decree in 2019, he loosened gun ownership laws, making it easier for Brazilians to keep weapons at home and extended the validity of the gun licences from five to 10 years.
While grappling with coronavirus, which has killed more than half a million Brazilians, the country is also facing a deep political crisis, which has led to high inflation, hunger and unemployment.
“Bolsonaro suggests that there may not be elections, or that they won’t be fair, that the future of the country is under threat as well as families. He appeals to his followers and moves towards his radical right,” Dr Andreza Aruska De Souza Santos, director of Brazilian Studies at Oxford University, said.
Sao Paolo journalist, Cristiane Prizibisczki, said, “We have to have in mind that the violence is a reality in our country, so everybody wants to feel safer,” adding that “Our policy has not been able to combat the criminality in a way we feel truly safe in our homes or on the streets.
“The situation is particularly bad in some cities like Rio de Janeiro,” said Prizibisczki.
She added that one of the groups most likely to be adversely affected by the liberalisation of gun laws would be women.
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