Brazil's Bolsonaro signs decree easing gun import, ammo limits

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro signed a decree on Tuesday to ease restrictions on gun imports and increase the amount of ammunition a person can buy.

FILE PHOTO - Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro speaks during a ceremony for signature of the decree of the new regulation on the use, sale and carrying of weapons and ammunition, at Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil May 7, 2019. REUTERS/Adriano Machado

The decree had initially been designed to ease restrictions for collectors, marksmen and hunters - allowing, for example, the carrying of loaded guns to shooting clubs - but was expanded to include other provisions.

Previously, imported arms were banned if there was a similar domestic-made product.

“We also broke the monopoly,” Bolsonaro said during a signing ceremony at the presidential palace. “You couldn’t import, and now we have ended this.”

Bolsonaro campaigned on a law-and-order platform that included easing restrictions on guns, and he had already signed a decree in January to make it easier to own a gun.

His supporters have cheered the move as allowing for self-defense in violence-plagued Brazil, but others fear putting guns in more people’s hands will hurt public safety.

Tuesday’s decree raised a limit on ammunition purchases to 5,000 cartridges per year for normal guns. The previous cap was 50 cartridges per year for average citizens, with discretionary limits for soldiers, police, hunters and some other categories left to the Brazilian military.

The decree also allows for up to 1,000 cartridges to be bought annually for use in restricted weapons, including large-caliber and semiautomatic weapons that are limited to military and police use.

Bolsonaro said the decree would take effect in 30 days, allowing time to discuss tax issues for imported guns with the Economy Ministry.

Shares in Brazilian arms maker Taurus SA rose 10.45 percent to 3.70 reais in Tuesday trading.

Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu; writing by Jake Spring; editing by Jonathan Oatis