Brazilians unenthusiastic about fewer gun controls

unenthusiastic fewer gun controls
Army day celebrations in Brasília. Photo: Isac Nóbrega/PR

The Brazilian electorate has little enthusiasm for the Armed Forces’ involvement in politics and the relaxation of gun controls, two central points of President Jair Bolsonaro’s political agenda. 

A PoderData survey released on Monday shows that 44 percent of the population considers the presence of military officers in important government positions — a hallmark of the Bolsonaro administration — to be bad. This represents a 9-point increase since December. 

Meanwhile, the military has become embroiled in controversies, such as the use of public money to buy Viagra pills and medicine to combat baldness. President Bolsonaro continues to involve the Armed Forces in his coup-mongering discourse — last week he said the Army would carry out a parallel vote count in this year’s elections.

Although 43 percent of respondents have a favorable view of the military in government, the rejection rate of the Armed Forces has only been higher in August 2021, when the government’s disapproval ratings also soared. 

The Armed Forces’ image crisis has already had an impact on how society views the institution. Historically, it is considered the most trusted institution in Brazil. But last year, the distrust rate was the highest in the historical series measured by another pollster, Datafolha.

Gun control

PoderData also showed that 62 percent are against the government encouraging the purchase of firearms. Since 2019, the government has issued more than 30 decrees that relax firearms controls; the number of guns in the hands of the general population now exceeds that of the Military Police.

Men represent the majority of supporters of both firearms and the Armed Forces, particularly older men and those with a higher monthly income. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of those in favor of fewer gun controls and the military are Bolsonaro voters.