Bolsonaro and the Proud Boys

Image: Thelma Lessa da Fonseca
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By DIJACI DAVID DE OLIVEIRA*

The government is not interested in guaranteeing more security for Brazilian society. Wants to arm tens and thousands of people who fit the profile of militiamen

Since taking office, President Jair M. Bolsonaro has continually expanded access to guns (BRASIL, 2019a, 2019b, 2019c, 2021). The government's effort to ensure access, ownership and carrying of weapons is noteworthy, while showing indifference or delaying access to the vaccine for Brazilians (FERREIRA et al. 2021). It is clear that saving lives is what matters least to the Bolsonaro government.

It is known that there are numerous surveys carried out around the world that demonstrate that more guns in circulation in a nation means more deaths, whether due to homicides or suicide cases. In the United States, for example, 60% of people who kill themselves use a firearm. Likewise, many other studies demonstrate the inefficiency of access to weapons as a means of guaranteeing personal defense (CERQUEIRA; MELLO, 2012). However, despite the various studies, the Government insists that having a gun at home is the best way to “guarantee the safety of good citizens”. Is that really what worries the government?

The obvious answer is that the government is not interested in guaranteeing more security for Brazilian society. If your concern was to improve security, you should invest in improving security services and essential services for the population. Qualifying education, ensuring more access to health, expanding the supply of jobs, ensuring access to food, as well as expanding the supply of housing for needy families are among the priority services that would help reduce the lack of security in Brazil (CHESNAIS, 1999 ). That would not be enough, but it would go a long way towards improving violence rates. It is worth noting that one of the major inducers of violence is inequality (MARICATO, 1996). Another major focus is on the numerous prejudiced practices (MINAYO; SOUZA, 1993). But in the end, tackling inequality is not the focus of the government. From the first moment he resisted offering a bonus and this only came out on the initiative of Congress in approving a benefit in the amount of R$ 600,00 (AGÊNCIA SENADO, 2020). Today, after the vertiginous drop in presidential popularity, he wants a new allowance, but with an amount below RS 300,00 (BARBOSA; BATISTA, 2021) and for a much smaller group (FLOR, 2021). Given this, it is possible to state that, by refusing to invest in improving essential services, the government prefers to further reinforce the model of inequality. Like this?

Weapons are expensive. Among the most sought after are the CBC 7022 carbine (average price of R$ 2,3), Taurus TH 380 pistol (approximate price of R$ 5.535,00), Glock G25 pistol (price in the range of R$ 7.715,97) . The values ​​are well above the access line for lower-income groups. Soon, the acquisition of weapons will be concentrated in the middle and upper classes. What, then, is the advantage of arming rich people and not guaranteeing access to guns for poor people?

There is no advantage (CERQUEIRA; MELLO, 2012). The homes of wealthy families (upper and middle classes) are the preferred targets for robberies. There are even many losses of weapons with the so-called “break-ins”. According to Cerqueira et al. (2019), data from the National Weapons System (Sinarm) of the Ministry of Justice indicate that approximately 22,9 firearms were lost or misplaced between 2009 and 2011, and another 29,3 were stolen or stolen. But regardless of the problems that may occur with possible expansion of access to weapons, the government goes further, and has announced that it wants access to weapons to be up to five weapons for “hunters” and up to 50 units for “collectors”. (BRASIL, 2021). Even more, he wants control to be “weakened”, so that public monitoring of access to weapons becomes difficult (BRASIL, 2021). And what is the problem in this case?

The situation is serious. If today, with the current control system, there is precarious public information about who acquired and where these weapons are, imagine a scenario in which state agencies have no less control. Here new questions can be formulated: finally, who benefits from the lack of control over firearms?

There is no doubt that the lack of state control directly benefits organized crime and paramilitary movements. It will be very easy to open “shooting clubs”, “hunting organizations”, “weapons collectors” and the like as a way of facilitating the issuance of large-scale and not always reliable records and, with that, mass access to weapons. As we have already said, as weapons are expensive, only people from the middle and upper middle classes will have access to them. However, takeovers can be sponsored by organized crime groups as well as militia organizations. Now imagine these groups with tens, hundreds or thousands of people "duly accredited", with access to weapons, with plenty of ammunition and still with full right to carry a weapon - that is, being able to walk up and down with a gun loaded?

Knowing the admiration and subservience that the Bolsonaro government had for former President Trump, it can be said that it is precisely to mirror and reproduce in Brazil the failed movement of Donald Trump. For those who don't know, Trump had the support of several groups with paramilitary characteristics, among them the ultranationalist Proud Boys. It is a conservative, paramilitary group that displayed its weapons publicly as a way to intimidate any opponents of Trump (FEUER, 2021).

Therefore, this is where the Government wants to arrive. He wants to arm tens and thousands of people who fit the militia profile. He believes that if these people are armed, they will engage in the defense of Bolsonaro's projects for continuity in power. Do you want to do this exactly along the same lines as Proud Boys, that even invaded the US Legislature. Here, as the Legislature is already dominated, the Brazilian Judiciary is in the firing line.

Well, just as the US started to seriously discuss the future of democracy after the failed attempt at a coup d'état sponsored by President Trump, it is necessary to think seriously about the future of Brazilian democracy. You can't watch events that took place in the US happen here. There died five people. Here, however, how many will die in a coup attempt sponsored by Bolsonaro, his armed followers and with the help of a military troupe?

*Dijaci David de Oliveira is professor of sociology at the Federal University of Goiás (UFG).

References


Senate Agency. Coronavirus: Senate approves emergency aid of R$ 600. Brasília: Senate News, 30 Mar. 2020. Available at: https://www12.senado.leg.br/noticias/materias/2020/03/30/coronavirus-senado-aprova-auxilio-emergencial-de-r-600.

BARBOSA, Marina; BATISTA, Vera. New emergency aid must be less than the R$ 300 of the end of 2020. Mail Braziliense, Brasilia, 2021. Available at: https://www.correiobraziliense.com.br/economia/2021/02/4905046-novo-auxilio-emergencial-deve-ser-inferior-aos-rs-300-do-fim-de-2020.html.

BRAZIL. Decree No. 9.845, of June 25, 2019. Regulates Law No. 10.826, of December 22, 2003, to provide for the acquisition, registration, registration and possession of firearms and ammunition. Official Diary of the Union, Brasilia, 25 jun. 2019a.

BRAZIL. Decree no. 10.030, of September 30, 2019. Approves the Controlled Products Regulation. Official Diary of the Union, Brasilia, 1st Oct. 2019b.

BRAZIL. Decree no. 9.847, of June 25, 2019. Regulates Law No. 10.826, of December 22, 2003, to provide for the acquisition, registration, registration, carrying and sale of firearms and ammunition and on the System National Weapons System and the Military Weapons Management System. Official Diary of the Union, Brasilia, 25 jun. 2019c.

BRAZIL. Decree no. 10.628, of February 12, 2021. Amends Decree No. 9.845, of June 25, 2019, which regulates Law No. 10.826, of December 22, 2003, to provide for the acquisition, registration, registration and possession of firearms and ammunition. Official Diary of the Union, Brasilia, 12 Feb. 2021.

CERQUEIRA, Daniel Ricardo de Castro; MELLO, Joao Manoel Pinho de. Less guns, less crime. Texts for Discussion, 1721. Brasilia: Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA), 2012.

CERQUEIRA, D. et al. Atlas of violence 2019. Brasilia; São Paulo: Institute of Applied Economic Research and Brazilian Public Security Forum, 2019.

CHESNAIS, Jean-Claude. Violence in Brazil: causes and policy recommendations for its prevention. Public Science & Health, v. 4, no. 1, p. 53-69, 1999.

FERREIRA, André Bastos et al. Rights in the pandemic: mapping and analysis of legal norms in response to Covid-19 in Brazil. Bulletin n. 10, São Paulo: Conectas Human Rights and the Center for Research and Studies on Health Law (CEPEDISA) of the School of Public Health at the University of São Paulo (USP), 20 Jan. 2021.

FUEER, Alan. Proud Boys Charged With Conspiracy in Capitol Riot. The New York Times, Jan. 29, 2021.

FLOR, Anna. Federal government studies emergency aid of R$ 250 for 4 months. Brasilia: G1, Brasilia, 12 Feb. 2021. Available at: https://g1.globo.com/economia/blog/ana-flor/post/2021/02/12/governo-federal-estuda-auxilio-emergencial-de-r-250-por-4 -months.ghtml.

MARICATO, Erminia. Metropolis on the periphery of capitalism: illegality, inequality and violence. So Paulo: Hucitec, 1996.

MINAYO, Maria Cecília de S.; SOUZA, Edinilsa R. de Souza. Violence for everyone. Public Health Notebooks, Rio de Janeiro, vol. 9, no. 1, p. 65-78, Jan./Mar. 1993.

 

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