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New firearms decree in Brazil worries poor neighbourhood in Sao Paulo

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro signed a decree in mid-January making it easier for Brazilians to purchase firearms. The decision sparked criticism from several groups in Brazilian society, including some in the Catholic Church.

“A firearm is an instrument of death. What we seek is peace,” said Fr James Crowe, known in the Jardim Angela neighbourhood of Sao Paulo simply as Fr Jaime.

Jardim Angela was known in the late 1990s as the most violent neighbourhood in Brazil and one of the worst in the world. In 1996, said Fr Jaime, the neighbourhood had 120 violent deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. After a strong disarmament campaign, the number dropped to 25 per 100,000 inhabitants last year.

“It is still high, but much lower than it was,” he said..

In a 2005 plebiscite, Brazilians rejected a total prohibition of firearms for civilians, but an overwhelming number of residents of Jardim Angela supported the prohibition.

“We were one of the few regions in Sao Paulo that voted to ban guns altogether,” recalled Fr Jaime. Now, he said, people are once again scared of the possibility of increased violence because of the new decree.

Picture: An employee from gun manufacturer Taurus Armas SA works at the company’s assembly line in Sao Leopoldo, Brazil. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro signed a decree on 15th Jan. 15 making it easier for Brazilians to purchase firearms. The decision sparked criticism from several groups in Brazilian society, including some in the Catholic Church. (CNS photo/Diego Vara, Reuters).