Jair Bolsonaro and Guns: A U.S. Culture War Raging in Brazil

By Katy Watson

"There is a part of Brazil for whom this U.S. style gun culture makes some sense, but not for the majority," said AS/COA's Brian Winter to BBC News.

Rice and beans hold an important place in the heart of most Brazilians.

In this deeply divided country, where almost everything is politicized, at least the famous "feijao" is a food loved by everyone. That is, until recently - when Jair Bolsonaro tried to put a political spin on the humble bean.

"The left says that people don't eat guns, they eat beans," he joked. He had a few weeks earlier attacked his critics for saying that buying food was more important for Brazilians than buying firearms. "So when someone attacks your house, shoot beans at them," he said ironically…

But this, say experts, doesn't truly represent Brazil - a poor country of more than 200 million that saw over 40,000 deaths from firearms last year. Indeed, recent polls suggest two-thirds of people disagree with gun ownership.

"There is a part of Brazil for whom this U.S. style gun culture makes some sense, but not for the majority of Brazilians," says Brian Winter, editor-in-chief of Americas Quarterly.

"Where most of Brazilians live - in the south-east and north-east along the coasts, these are big cities where this kind of assault-rifle toting culture makes no sense at all."

So why the U.S.-style gun strategy then?

"I don't think there is a strategy, I think it's a reflection of the reality which is so much of Bolsonarismo being modelled after Trump," says Winter. "They clearly looked at the gun culture issue and said maybe we've got something here."…

"What you get is mostly the imagery and the macho posing with the AR15s," says Winter. "The visuals that are meant to project strength, I feel like [they are] often one or two degrees separated from Taliban imagery."…

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