People are ready to buy some guns in the world’s murder capital

Desperate Brazilians are wondering whether they’d be better off armed, given that around 60,000 of their compatriots are killed each year. Polls show support for gun ownership gaining ground. In an election year, politicians are paying attention.

One of the candidates leading the field for October’s 2018 presidential election — hardline conservative Jair Bolsonaro — has promised to allow law-abiding citizens to arm themselves, a popular pledge in the nation with by far the most homicides of the entire world. Even before then, Congress may debate legislation to overturn the “disarmament statute,” a law that effectively bans civilian gun ownership, except in rare circumstances. The proposal would allow Brazilians with clean criminal records who pass psychological and firearm exams to buy up to six weapons.

“Everyday, everywhere you look, the criminal is armed with a high-powered weapon as the citizen tries to hide,” Rogerio Peninha Mendonca, the lawmaker behind the proposal, said in an interview. “What we want is for the citizen to be more capable of defending himself.”