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Amazon has an explosion in the number of CAC weapons – 02/15/2023 – Daily life

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The number of firearms in the hands of civilians in the Legal Amazon exploded during the Jair Bolsonaro government (PL). Between 2018 and 2022, the index registered in 7 of the 9 states in the region rose 743.7%: from 6,693 to 56,473 weapons. Between 2021 and 2022 alone, the arsenal of CACs (Hunters, Sport Shooters and Collectors) in the region almost doubled, increasing 96%.

The data are from the Army and were obtained by the Sou da Paz Institute through the Access to Information Law.

The information was presented separated into military regions. Therefore, this total only considers the collection of the CACs of Pará, Amapá and Maranhão, which make up the 8th military region, and Amazonas, Acre, Roraima and Rondônia, which make up the 12th.

Mato Grosso and Tocantins are also part of the Legal Amazon, but data from these states are allocated in other military regions (9th and 11th) and, as they are mixed with other places, it is not possible to extract them individually from the survey.

In all of Brazil, the growth rate in the last four years is also alarming, but it is well below that registered in the Amazon region: it went from almost 351 thousand to 1.2 million, an increase of 259%. Considering the entire arsenal in the hands of civilians (including, for example, ordinary citizens who are registered for self-defense and civil servants who have weapons for personal use), the number reaches almost 3 million guns in the country.

It is also possible to extract from the collected data the indices of other Brazilian regions. In the Northeast, the CACs arsenal grew 425% between 2018 and 2022, while in the South the increase was 276% and, in the Southeast (except the Minas Gerais triangle), it was 166%.

Experts point out that many studies indicate that more guns in circulation cause an increase in violence.

“Brazil is a country with conflicts. But when I put a firearm in this context, I increase the lethality of violence”, says Melina Risso, director of research at the Igarapé Institute. “The presence of firearms in those contexts where the conflict is very exacerbated, as in land disputes, undoubtedly increases the lethality of the confrontation”.

Aiala Colares Couto, professor and researcher at the University of the State of Pará and member of the FBSP (Brazilian Public Security Forum), explains that, recently, many shooting clubs were opened in mining and logging regions.

“The growth in the number of weapons coincides with the increase in violence in the Amazon region”, he says. “This violence is a consequence not only of that, but also of the presence of a series of crimes that have been connected, among them the relationship between drug trafficking and environmental crimes.”

FBSP data show that, while in Brazil homicides by firearms fell by 15% between 2012 and 2020, from 40,071 to 33,993, in the Legal Amazon these crimes increased by 4% in the same period, going from 5,537 to 5,780.

In 2021, the rate of intentional violent deaths in municipalities in the Amazon region reached 30.9 per 100,000 inhabitants — 38.6% higher than the national average, which was 22.3 per 100,000.

The growth in the CACs collection reflects the facilitation of access to weapons promoted by Bolsonaro, which made rules more flexible through decrees. During the last government, the number of people with firearm licenses soared, up 473% in four years.

The manager of the Sou da Paz Institute Bruno Langeani explains that it is not just the greater number of records that is of concern, but also the change in the type of weapons released: in greater quantity and of high caliber.

With the changes implemented in the last government, sport shooters are now authorized to have up to 60 weapons, 30 of which are restricted to use, such as semi-automatic rifles, while for sport hunters the limit is now up to 30 weapons, 15 of which are restricted.

“This enhances common violence and that of organized crime, because it puts more powerful weapons in the hands of civilians than those of the police”, says the expert, adding that the privileges offered to the category of CACs by the Bolsonaro government are in line with the demand of the crime that operates in the Amazon rainforest.

“Many of these activities — such as mining, land grabbing and illegal logging — demand armed territorial control, especially with greater firepower. And, as these activities take place in a forest region, having a weapon with greater firepower makes a lot of difference “, he states.

In this context, weapons are used both in promoting illegal activities, threatening and expelling riverside dwellers, indigenous peoples and activists, as well as in victimization of public agents.

“With such a significant increase, it is not surprising that we have had so many cases of threat or execution in the region, as were the by Bruno Pereira and Dom Philipsin 2022, and [indigenista] Maxciel dos Santos, in 2019.”

Risso points out that studies also point to an increase in firearms found in environmental crime operations. “The profile of legal weapons interferes and influences access to weapons that criminality has”, he adds.

A technical note released by Sou da Paz last year explains this change in profile by analyzing the weapons seized in the states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro between 2017 and 2022.

“If before, older and less powerful weapons were seized, such as pistols and revolvers, now are being replaced by newly released weaponssuch as 9 mm and .40 pistols, which previously were only accessed by the police and with Bolsonaro could be purchased by any citizen”, exemplifies Langeani.

Upon assuming the Presidency, in January, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) determined that all weapons in the country be registered in the Federal Police system, known as Sinarm (National Weapons System).

In addition, the text also implemented other changes. Between them, suspended, at first, the acquisition of firearms for restricted use by CACs and established a smaller number of permitted weapons that can be acquired.

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