Brazil's president-elect vows to loosen gun laws

Brazil's president-elect vows to loosen gun laws
Shirts with the image of Brazil's President-elect Jair Bolsonaro are displayed for sale in front of the Cathedral, in Brasilia, Brazil, Friday, Dec. 28, 2018. The Secretary of Public Security in Brasilia said that they are expecting as many as 500,000 people to attend the ceremony. Brazil's military has deployed anti-aircraft missiles and fighter jets to protect the event from the air. On the ground, more than 3,000 police and military will take to the streets. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s President-elect Jair Bolsonaro says that on taking office, he will issue a decree guaranteeing citizens without a criminal history the ability to possess firearms.

Bolsonaro made the statement Saturday via Twitter. The loosening of gun laws was a central component of his election campaign. The ex-army captain takes office Jan. 1.

Currently possession of firearms is tightly restricted in Brazil. Civilians must pass through a long process, and the sale of weapons is limited to small calibers.

Despite the difficulty legally possessing a firearm, gun violence is a problem in Brazil. In 2017, Brazil set a record for murders with just over 63,000 people killed.

A 2005 referendum asked Brazilians if the sale of firearms should be banned. Almost 64 percent of the population voted against the measure.