We defend the right to self-defense and to get armed for the working class and the poor people. But the decree signed by Bolsonaro does not guarantee such right for the poor. The opposite is true, it increases even more the weaponry of the rich to kill the poor.
On January 16, Bolsonaro signed a decree to simplify the possession of arms. In general terms, it mitigates the requirements for someone who wants to have a weapon and keep it inside his property.
Such decree should not be supported by the working class. Not because of the arguments sustained by the Workers Party or those who defend the prohibition of owning and carrying guns for the whole population, as has defended Fernando Haddad (defeated presidential candidate of the Workers Party; T.N.) saying that “safety is one of the first rights assured by the modern State” (or bourgeois State). Well, the bourgeois revolution demanded the people armed. The monopoly of weapons by the bourgeois State was a measure from the big capitalists against the majority of the population, especially against the working class, but also the poor peasants and the low middle class.
The bourgeois State must have the monopoly of weapons for a very simple reason: capitalists are a small minority that exploits all other classes. In case such classes decide to rebel against them – with weapons – capitalists would not last a single day. Apart from that, in a day-to-day bases, we see military forces from the State, paramilitary forces linked to capitalist business such as militias, groups armed by drug traffic and criminals attacking the poor population and those who fight for better life conditions. Marielle’s brutal assassination might be a good example (PSOL councilor from Rio de Janeiro murdered last year; T.N.). Workers must have the right to self-defense (including collectively). Bolsonaro’s decree, however, does not allow the main victims of violence to defend themselves, but the opposite.
Understanding the Changes
This decree modifies some of the requirements to possess weapons. ‘‘Possessing’’ is the possibility of having a gun in a fixed place: a residence or working place (as long as the person with the gun is the one in charge of the place). It is different from the right to carry weapon in the streets, which is still restricted to security forces and some other professional categories such as judges or prosecutors, for example.
To be allowed to possess a gun you must be aged 25 at least, be qualified (do a shooting course), do a psych technical test and you cannot have police records or be under judicial enquiry. You also must ascertain a residence and a “licit occupation” and prove the “effective necessity” of having a weapon. This “necessity” is exactly one of the main points changing. Before the decree, the Federal Police was in charge of subjectively deciding if there is the necessity or not for someone to have a gun. The text signed by Bolsonaro sets broadly what would be this “necessity”: living in a violent state with more than 10 deaths for each 100 thousand inhabitants in 2016. (This is the case of all Brazilian states; T.N.).
But this decree does not allow all the people to buy a gun, as all costs for that (taxes and the price of the weapon itself) can easily be over 10 minimum wages, in a country where the vast majority of the population earns up to one minimum wage per month, if the person is not unemployed. It is a “luxury” restricted to a small percentage of the population. A worker who lives in the periphery, who suffers a dual violence, from criminals and militias, but also from the police, is going to continue unarmed and vulnerable. Most of the 65 thousand people murdered every year in Brazil are black young men, which are poor and live in peripheries.
This decree and the defense of releasing weapons by Bolsonaro’s government are a free-pass for the rich to kill the poor and oppressed. When signing the decree, Bolsonaro showed clearly for whom it was. “Also with the possibility, in case of needing to buy more guns, according to the number of rural properties, for example, it is possible to obtain a higher number of weapons”, he said. The text fixes a limit of four guns per person. Such example was not aimless. The arms policy led by Bolsonaro’s government wants to legitimate violence against landless people on the countryside, who they consider “terrorists”, and also against indigenous and quilombola populations (maroons). They want to legitimate it because it is already occurring and increasing, stimulated by Bolsonaro’s reactionary speech against the poor, women, movements fighting for land, indigenous, quilombolas and riparian populations, etc.
Evidently, this decree and its possible outcomes such as a higher flexibilization at the National Congress, is not going to solve the public security chaos or the violence that affects the poorest the most every day. It will, first, arm the rich and the farmers against the poor, the ones they really fear. But at the first moment, this policy may be seen as a marketing action, before clashes and corruption scandals reaching the government, such as the money laundering driver Queiroz (a scandal involving the senator – and son of the president – Flávio Bolsonaro and his assistant, with suspect bank movements that reached R$ 7 million; T.N.).
The current chaos of public security is connected, first, to an exponential increase of unemployment, poverty and misery. A brutal social inequality that, due to the crisis, is only growing. It is connected to the fact that a whole youth, without any future expectations, is being transformed in a real reserve army for the organized crime. The same youth, in general black, who lives in the periphery, dies daily in the hands of the police, or fills prisons throughout the country.
Second, for the policy of criminalizing drugs, led by the current and previous governments, under orders from the United States. Such policy criminalizes poverty only, keeping intact the illegal – but capitalist – business of the drug traffic, whose millionaire bosses neither live at the slums nor deal drugs personally. But they can only keep their business because they have branches inside the State, police forces, etc.
This policy is used to justify a massive genocide and imprisonment of the black youth. With that, they kill and fill prisons with black and poor people, half of them without trial even, and most without any criminal record. Social control and repression at one side, enormous profits for a few at the other. Drugs criminalization and its consequent illegal trade perpetuate an enormous and vascularized corruption web, reaching all State spheres. From parliamentary to judge, passing through militias and corrupt cops charging a kickback at the sale point.
To reduce actually the dramatic urban violence, the first step is to end unemployment, misery and lack of minimum living conditions for the majority of our people and youth. Aside that, drugs must be decriminalized, taking away the profit that feeds this death and corruption spiral, forcing this business to show its face, pay taxes and be under state control. But this is not the real concern of Bolsonaro and the Congress sector known as “bullet parliamentarians”, who seize chaos and violence in their profit, while protecting the profits of those who actually earn with it.
The Right of self-defense, even from the State
Trusting the bourgeois State and legitimating its monopoly of violence and weapons is legitimating the repression and massacre against the working class and the oppressed sectors. The assassination of Chico Mendes, leader of the rubber workers, which completed 30 years in December, is a great example. The daily violence committed by police forces against the poor and the periphery neighborhoods reinforces dramatically this reality.
The majority of the population does not trust this State and its institutions to guarantee its safety, as they know they are the main responsible for attacking them. The disarmament referendum in 2005, in which the PSTU (Brazilian section of the IWL-FI) called the people to vote “no”, showed more than 63% of the people voting against unarming the people.
The working class and its popular sectors, the landless, indigenous, riparian people and quilombolas, daily attacked, repressed and killed by the police and paramilitary forces, usually connected to the police or even the army, do have the right to self-defense. Pistols and machine guns cannot be faced with roses. We must defend the right to organized and collective self-defense of the working class and oppressed sectors, including the right to own and to carry guns.
The poor and periphery population living the daily siege between police and organized crime violence must have the right to organize and to defend themselves with guns.
Translated by: Chico