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Gun club opens every day in Bolsonaro’s Brazil as weapons become key election issue

Although it is quiet in an area of Sao Paulo that is quite rugged, the constant sound of high-velocity weapons firing and the impact of bullets every few seconds are somewhat alarming.

After ringing the doorbell at an unassuming building, we are greeted by a man in a smart black jacket and body armor.

He invites us to enter and closes the door. A second metal door opens in front of us and we are greeted by the sound of shooting through a cloud of barbecue-smelling fumes.

This is the G-16 gun club. It’s open 24 hours per day. The BBQ is available outside, and it’s lunchtime.

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For the past four years, gun clubs in the Brazil have opened at an astonishing rate of one per day.

The environment is casual but professional. People fill out forms for gun licenses at desks. Members and trainers gather around, carrying pistols in their holsters, and wearing military gear.

Machine guns are displayed on the walls, while handguns are displayed in cabinets.

A young woman explains to me that anyone with a licence can purchase and take away handguns but they must order assault rifles.

She smiles brightly and adds, “Or you could borrow them while your here and use them at the range.”

Under the right-wing government of Bolsonaro, private gun ownership has soared.

He and his supporters argue that the right to bear arms is a fundamental human right. However, Brazil’s Constitution doesn’t mention this, which is something Brazil is not like the United States.


“Bolsonaro’s a gun enthusiast”

Gustavo Pazzini is the proud owner of G-16 Club. He started with just one club and now has four clubs with over 12,000 members.

Bolsonaro is a strong supporter of his cause. The president’s photo hangs in the club foyer.

Bolsonaro is a gun lover, a military man and a pro-freedom politician. He made some changes that heated up the market and has rekindled the hopes of Brazilian gun lovers and gun enthusiasts.

It is a huge booming sector, and it is another important issue in this tight election.

Brazilians will vote in the second round next Sunday after Mr Bolsonaro failed to win enough votes to be declared the winner.

Voting results will be influenced by the highly polarised electorate. It will decide whether the country sends a leftist back to the helm in the fourth-largest democracy in the world or keeps the far right leader in power for four more years.

This was the most important election in the country since 1985’s end to the military dictatorship. Mr da Silva, leftist Workers Party, won 48.26% and Mr Bolsonaro 43.34%.

Image Gustavo Pazzini is the owner of G-16 club.


Threat of violence election-related

We drove an hour from Sao Paulo to pull off the main road, and then we turned left towards a series port-a-cabins at the edge of a large open space.

The sound of machine gun fire and pump action shotguns, revolvers and machine gun fire was loud enough to hear in the car.

This is the Assault shooting area, which is a country club for amateur gun owners and a training ground to police officers and more serious gun club enthusiasts. They are dressed in matching uniforms and keen to learn the art of the battlefield like the military.

Bolsonaro-supporting organizations are feared to pose as Trump-supporting gun carriers.

This fear was heightened by the nearness of the election, and the threat from election-linked violence.

A day at the Assault shooting range can also be a fun family event.

Image Stopa’s family at the shooting range


“I think it’s awesome”

The Stopa family is represented on the range by all generations with different weapons and an instructor who teaches them how to use them.

Georgia, 18 years old, fires a gun for the first-time today.

After firing the shotgun, she exclaimed that “it’s so cool”, and was very happy.

Her proud mother took photos throughout the entire time.

Their instructor is serious, but they have a lot of fun and laughter throughout the lesson.

Former police officer and owner of the Assault club, knows that any win other than Bolsonaro will be a disaster for his business.

Bolsonaro used his executive power to relax the country’s strict gun laws that were imposed by his electoral opponent Mr da Silva.

People worry about Lula’s return, but that is only if his first approach to the problem is to disarm the people. I was told by the club owner that the better it is for them the more insecure, disarmed, and illiterate they are.

We stopped at one of the largest gun shops in the country on our way back to Assault.

ISA includes a cafe-restaurant and a pristine interior with mood lighting, glass cabinets and gleaming weapons.

Image Clovis Arguiar displays weapons he imported

This business is very successful and has flourished under the leadership of Mr Bolsonaro.

According to the gun shop owner, he cleared PS1.7m each month.

Clovis Aguiar presented weapons that he had imported from Israel to Jorge Seif (bolsonaro-supporting senator).

I asked Senator if he wanted one of the weapons. He enthusiastically responded, laughing.

Image Senator Jorge Seif is optimistic about his election victory

Mr Seif believes that Bolsonaro will win and states that if they control the Senate, they will alter the gun laws permanently.

He said that a socialist government or dictatorship, an oppressive government, comes to power first and the first thing they do is disarm the people. This was in reference to Lula da Silva’s Worker’s Party.

“But President Bolsonaro demonstrates his commitment to Brazil’s people. He respects democracy above all because he trusts his people when he allows them to purchase firearms.

Continue reading:

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His supporters and Mr da Silva argue that adding more guns to a country with a poor record of crime is reckless.

Bolsonaro’s supporters disagree and argue that guns are a way for people to protect themselves.

They will not agree, just like so many other things in this election.

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