Gun culture was a key part of Jair Bolsonaro’s winning campaign to become Brazil’s president. Three years later, what impact has he had on the nation’s relationship with firearms and how much has US politics played a part?
Rice and beans hold an important place in the heart of most Brazilians.
In this deeply divided country, where almost everything is politicised, at least the famous “feijao” is a food loved by everyone. That is, until recently – when Jair Bolsonaro tried to put a political spin on the humble bean.
“The left says that people don’t eat guns, they eat beans,” he joked. He had a few weeks earlier attacked his critics for saying that buying food was more important for Brazilians than buying firearms. “So when someone attacks your house, shoot beans at them,” he said ironically.
It is yet another example of Bolsonaro sticking two fingers up at his critics. And they’re well-used fingers. Throughout his campaign trail in 2018, he used them in a pistol hand gesture as a clear message to his supporters – even in a country with one of the world’s highest rates of gun deaths, easing firearms laws was a top priority.
And on 15 January 2019, just two weeks after taking power, he made good on his promise. The Brazilian president signed a decree making it easier for Brazilians to keep weapons at home and at the same time, increasing the validity of gun licences from five years to 10.