Brazil’s Superior Electoral Court on Thursday banned the transportation of most private guns and ammunition during Election Day weekend.
While it is difficult for Brazilian citizens to prove their need to own a firearm for self-defense, it is far more straightforward to obtain a license as a collector, hunter, or sports shooter, a group known as the Portuguese acronym CAC.
Under the Bolsonaro administration, the number of CACs licenses grew fivefold, from around 117,000 to over 673,000. These citizens are only allowed to carry weapons when traveling to and from practice venues, hunts, or competitions, but this loophole has essentially permitted CACs to remain armed at all times, providing they say they are en route to a gun club.
The resolution approved this Thursday bans CACs from transporting guns and ammo in the 24 hours before Election Day, on Election Day itself, and in the 24 hours after that.
“The measure seeks to guarantee the free exercise of their right to vote, ruling out any possibility of coercion in the course of voting,” wrote Justice Alexandre de Moraes, head of the electoral court. “Furthermore, the measure is important from the preventive point of view of security, seeking to avoid armed confrontations resulting from political violence.”
Last month, the court had already banned private citizens from bearing guns within 100 meters of any polling station. Separately, the Supreme Court suspended rules passed through presidential executive orders, which made it easier for Brazilians to purchase and bear firearms.
People caught with guns or ammo illegally during the weekend will be arrested.
Brazil has seen several episodes of political violence this year. In the most famous, on July 9, a pro-Bolsonaro penitentiary officer shot dead a treasurer for the local chapter of the Workers’ Party. The victim was throwing a Lula-themed birthday party in the southern city of Foz do Iguaçu. The killer is in jail and faces charges of aggravated homicide.