During the 2018 campaign trail, one gesture symbolized the Jair Bolsonaro campaign more than any other: at every rally, on every social media post, in every photo op with supporters, he could be seen with an open-mouthed grin and his trademark finger guns — less of a branding exercise, and more a campaign promise. For decades, Mr. Bolsonaro has been a vocal supporter of scrapping gun control regulations, asserting that Brazilians must take matters of justice into their own hands. In a 2017 interview, he said “violence must be fought with violence,” while in an April cabinet meeting, he exclaimed that “an armed population will never be enslaved.”
But besides the rhetorical bluster to expand the ownership of guns in Brazil — which consistently ruffled the feathers of his opponents on the left — did Mr. Bolsonaro actually walk the walk after talking the talk? Data suggests he did. Gun imports have doubled in Brazil, and firearm license requests skyrocketed since he took office as president.