Shooting in Campinas church reignites gun debate in Brazil

. Dec 12, 2018
Shooting in Campinas church reignites gun debate in Brazil

At approximately 1:30 pm on Tuesday afternoon, Euler Fernando Grandolpho, a 49-year-old unemployed systems analyst, opened fire on the congregation of the Metropolitan Cathedral in Campinas, a city roughly 99 km to the north of São Paulo. Mr. Grandolpho had watched the 12:15 pm mass and as it ended, he walked up to the front of the cathedral, brandishing two weapons—a pistol and a .38 revolver—and began firing at the churchgoers.

Five people were killed and another four were injured. One, an 84-year-old man who was shot in the chest and stomach, was taken to intensive care and his situation remains critical.
After a brief confrontation with the police, Mr. Grandolpho was felled by a shot to the chest, he then shot himself in the head.

</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The police investigation has shown that Mr. Grandolpho had no prior convictions and no apparent link to the victims. A resident of the nearby town of Valinhos, he lived with his widowed father. People close to him described Mr. Grandolpho as reserved, yet “extremely polite.&#8221;</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The attack shocked a country which—despite being the number one place in the world for deaths caused by firearms—is not used to seeing public mass shootings, such as those which occur with frightening regularity in the United States. Before Tuesday’s attack, only five such prominent incidents have taken place in Brazil in the last 10 years, mainly occurring in schools.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">One of the most infamous mass shooting took place in 2011 at a school in the neighborhood of Realengo, western Rio de Janeiro. 23-year-old Wellington Menezes de Oliveira entered his old high school and massacred 12 teenagers before killing himself. In a personal diary found by the police on Wednesday afternoon, Euler Grandolpho made references to the Realengo Massacre</span></p> <h2>Guns in Brazil</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The tragic attack takes place at a time <a href="">when gun ownership is being discussed</a> more and more in Brazil, with incoming president-elect Jair Bolsonaro promising to repeal the country’s Disarmament Law to make it easier for Brazilian citizens to have access to firearms.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The symbolism of guns has never been so apparent in Brazil either, with Mr. Bolsonaro saying his opponents should be “machine-gunned,&#8221; governor-elect of São Paulo João Doria promising that his military police force will be ordered to “shoot to kill,&#8221; and the future president even using two “finger guns” as his official campaign salute. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A report from newspaper <em>Folha de S.Paulo</em> even spoke to vendors at São Paulo&#8217;s traditional centers of commerce who have said the demand for toy guns has gone through the roof in this year&#8217;s Christmas shopping spree.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Though Brazil’s Disarmament Law does foresee <a href=",702432/brasil-lidera-ranking-de-mortes-por-arma-de-fogo-no-mundo.shtml">strict rules</a> for owning firearms—citizens must be over 25, be in gainful employment, have a proven place of residence and no prior convictions, as well as requiring an “effective need” to own a gun and passing technical and psychological examinations—that hasn&#8217;t stopped these weapons from spreading around the country illicitly.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to a study from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, <a href="">Brazil saw 43,200 deaths caused by firearms</a> between 1990 and 2016, more than any other country in the world and more than the U.S., which has a larger population and much laxer gun legislation. When considering the number of gun homicides per 100,000 people, Brazil ranked 7th, with 18.2 deaths.</span></p> <h2>Repealing the Disarmament Law</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A recurring campaign promise of Jair Bolsonaro—so much so that his government program contained a pledge to review the law to guarantee Brazilians the right to “legitimate defense&#8221;—repealing the Disarmament Act is set to be on the president-elect’s agenda for 2019.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Changing said legislation cannot be done by decree, and he would require the support of Congress to do so. Today, there is a bill in the lower house, authored by Rogério Peninha, which if approved would effectively repeal Brazil’s current gun legislation.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The proposal reduces the minimum age for gun ownership from 25 to 21, and allows people with prior convictions to obtain firearms, providing they have not been found guilty of so-called &#8220;malicious&#8221; crimes. The bill would also remove citizens’ requirement to show they have an “effective need” for owning a gun.

This content has been updated, as a fifth victim was confirmed dead on Dec. 12.

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