Brazil's newly elected right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro is about to loosen gun control legislation in the country, making it easier for civilians with no criminal record to possess a weapon, in an attempt to tackle the country's gun violence epidemic.
Gun violence has become rampant in Brazil recently, with people resorting to bullet-proofing homes and cars, according to a report by MSN News. School-children in poor neighborhoods have reportedly become used to lying on the floor during frequent shootouts, the report says.
"No one feels safe any more […] anywhere in Brazil," a 47-year old businessman told MSN. "Everyone has a right to defend themselves."
Bolsonaro, a proponent of fighting violence with violence, has even adopted a signature trigger-finger salute during his presidential campaign.
Current Brazilian law allows people above the age of 25 without a criminal record to apply to buy a gun, leaving it to police to decide whether an applicant deserves a gun. Currently, police more often give a negative answer.
At the moment, Brazil has the lowest gun-ownership rate among Latin American countries, with an estimated eight out of 100 Brazilians possessing a gun, a stark contrast to illegal gun ownership. According to the MSN report, "illegal guns are so plentiful among criminals that drug lords give them away to their gangs."
Most guns used in Brazilian crime were initially sold legally and then stolen. It is a widespread practice to rob a police officer of their sidearm at gunpoint. Many officers have outright sold their guns for easy cash, reporting them stolen afterwards, according to the MSN report.
Brazil has become the world's fourth-largest small arms manufacturer, with one company — Forjas Taurus — enjoying an almost complete monopoly on selling guns to security forces in the nation. Most stolen weapons on Brazil's black market are domestically-made Taurus guns.
"It would be like a tropical version of a Bruce Willis movie or an old-fashioned Western, where everyone is armed and bad-tempered, going around shooting each other over the smallest thing," said Rafael Alcadipani, a security expert at Brazil's Getulio Vargas Foundation, a higher education institution focused on public administration
Others cite statistics that many murders in Brazil are performed by first offenders, stemming from everyday altercations that spiral out of control.
Proponents, however, say that only if most law-abiding Brazilians carry a gun will criminals think twice before attempting their crimes.
With no clear-cut plan, Brazil could soon become a revealing social experiment, MSN pointed out.