Remember all the experts who said that Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s to relax gun control would lead to more murder?

Sep 15, 2020 | Featured

When Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro promised to ease gun regulations and let more people own guns the media and the “experts” they talked to thought it would lead to more homicides/murders. Well, it didn’t turn out that way. Things are still early and other factors have to be accounted for, but don’t expect to see a lot of people who were clearly predicting disaster admit that they were wrong.

Here are some of the warnings from the experts.

Not too surprisingly, Michael Bloomberg’s “news” organization had a headline in early 2019 warning of the consequences of Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro promised to “decree loosening gun laws will come at a cost in lives.”

Here’s a simple fact, affirmed by worldwide research, for Bolsonaro to consider: More guns means more deaths by gun — whether by homicide, accident or suicide. A study in Brazil’s state of Sao Paulo, for instance, found that a 1 percent increase in the number of guns in circulation resulted in a 2 percent increase in the homicide rate. . . .

Editorial Board, “Brazil’s Bolsonaro Makes a Dangerous Decision on Guns,” Bloomberg Opinion, January 18, 2019.

NPR was also clear: “Brazil’s High Murder Rate Could Get Even Worse If Gun Laws Are Relaxed”

Newly elected Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is supremely confident he can reduce violent crime — a core pillar of his election campaign. But his proposal to dismantle national gun laws is precisely the wrong way to go about doing this. . . .

Robert Muggah, “Brazil’s High Murder Rate Could Get Even Worse If Gun Laws Are Relaxed,” National Public Radio, January 10, 2019.

From the Guardian:

Firearms exports from Austria to Brazil have surged by more than 377% in the first half of this year as gun ownership increases under the South American country’s rightwing president, Jair Bolsonaro. . . . Bolsonaro’s highly controversial relaxation of gun laws – a key pledge in his 2018 campaign – is fuelling fears among experts and campaigners that such moves will add to already shocking levels of violence. . . .

Staff, “Firearms exports to Brazil surge as gun ownership increases under Bolsonaro,” The Guardian, July 2020.

From the New York Times:

“Mr. Bolsonaro’s promise to ease gun regulation . . . is worrying some experts who argue that more guns fuel more violence”

Shasta Darlington, “Brazil’s New Leader Wants to Ease Gun Laws. Supporters Are Ready, and Training,” New York Times, December 1, 2018.

In early 2019, The Economist had a headline which clearly stated their position: “Jair Bolsonaro wants Brazilians to have more guns: More young people will die.”

That does not mean that the gun-control law was pointless. Without it, Brazil’s murder rate would have risen much more rapidly than it did, according to a study by the Institute for Applied Economic Research, a government think-tank (see chart).

Staff, “Jair Bolsonaro wants Brazilians to have more guns,” The Economist, January 26, 2019.

But critics of the president’s approach have warned that more guns are not the answer to reducing violent crime in a country where a record high 63,880 homicides took place in 2017, the most recent year for which data is available.

Staff, “Rio governor brands rise in police killings as ‘normal’,” Al Jazeera, July 19, 2019.



  1. Robert Wing

    The chart doesn’t mean much without an explanation and translation. The way I read it is that total homicides have dropped, and homicides committed with a gun have dropped, but homicides by guns made for civilians have increased. Am I interpreting that correctly? Would that include justifiable homicides?

    • johnrlott

      Thanks, Robert, you can always use Google Translate, but you got the basic gist. As gun ownership increased there was a drop in homicides. It is hard to put a lot of weight on the increase in gun ownership causing the drop in homicides, but clearly the opposite, the explosion in homicides that were expected, didn’t occur.