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  • Police search youths for weapons and drugs while on patrol in the Nordeste de Amaralina slum complex in Salvador, Bahia State, March 28, 2013.

    Police search youths for weapons and drugs while on patrol in the Nordeste de Amaralina slum complex in Salvador, Bahia State, March 28, 2013. | Photo: Reuters

A U.N. study found a staggering 42,000 were shot dead across the country in 2012, while over 4,000 were killed by guns in Rio de Janeiro in 2015.

Brazilian lawmakers are looking to relax gun ownership laws in the country despite the majority of homicides being linked to firearms.

Congressman Edson Moreira, who is part of the religiously conservative congress group, known by many as  the "bullets, beef and Bible" sect, told NPR on Monday that he is an advocate of U.S. style gun laws that say if the “bad guys" have guns, the "good guys" should be allowed to have them as well to protect themselves. 

"Brazil doesn't have a gun problem. It has a problem of illegal guns in the hands of criminals, especially drug traffickers," he said. "The idea is to return to the public the right to own a gun or not."

"The U.S.A. has the perfect legislation in the Second Amendment, which guarantees the population the right to bear arms," he added.

RELATED: Brazil May Lower the Legal Age for Owning a Gun

The proposal to make it easier for Brazilians to own guns is also supported by Fabrício Rebelo from the Research Center on Law and Security in Brazil although he wants to see a more safeguards put in place than the U.S. system.

"The proposed change in the law here would still mean Brazil would have very strict gun control laws unlike the more relaxed (gun) market in North America," he said.

The campaign for looser gun controls has faced strong opposition in Brazil, a country in the midst of a gun epidemic.  A study from the U.N. found a staggering 42,000 were shot dead across the country in 2012 while over 4,000 people were killed by guns in Rio de Janeiro state in 2015.

Campaigners for more gun controls say the people who are arguing for greater access to guns don't account for most of the victims with black youths the majority of those killed in gunfire.

"We are seeing a massacre of our young population. We don't call it that because it doesn't happen as it does in a war where you see all the bodies piled up at once," Fabio Ataide, a judge in Natal who teaches criminology said.

"White Brazil is seeing fewer homicides. Violence is going down there. But black Brazil is seeing an explosion of violence," he added.

The gun debate in Brazil has been ravaging for some time. As teleSUR reported in October 2015 Brazilian lawmakers debated a gun control bill that would lower the minimum age requirement for gun ownership from 25 to 21 years of age.

Currently gun laws are fairly tight with applicants needing to present a fixed address, a clean criminal record, a mental health test, proof you know how to handle a gun and evidence why you need a gun to authorities. Even if all the criteria is fulfilled police can still reject applications.

Figures compiled by Brazilian news outlet Globo in March says 10 percent of all the world’s homicides occur in Brazil.

WATCH: Brazil: 5 Black Youth Shot Dead by Police in Rio

 

 

 

 

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