Is Eduardo Bolsonaro working for the American gun industry? Here are 10 facts:
Eduardo Bolsonaro was introduced to the American far right and to the NRA at the beginning of 2016 by two Brazilians: Royce Gracie, a former UFC fighter and current American gun industry promoter, and Tony Eduardo, an employee of Omaha’s 88 Tactical and the owner of shooting club Clube de Tiro .38 in South Brazil. Royce Gracie and Tony Eduardo together taught a program to police forces and Seals in the US. Both Royce Gracie and Tony Eduardo joined Eduardo Bolsonaro to support his father Jair Bolsonaro’s presidential campaign in 2018 because they wanted to annihilate the Brazilian gun control legislation named “Estatuto do Desarmamento” (Disarmament Statute) to facilitate the exportation of guns to Brazil. The statute had been sanctioned by former president Lula da Silva in 2003.
Eduardo Bolsonaro attended the Shot Show, the largest annual event for gun enthusiasts in the US, in the years 2016, 2017 and 2018. In February 2017, while still a congressman in Brazilian parliament, his father Jair Bolsonaro got busted by a photographer when he was using WhatsApp to text Eduardo Bolsonaro, who had traveled to US to attend the Shot Show and had liaised with NRA. Jair Bolsonaro warned Eduardo that he wouldn’t visit him in Papuda, a prison complex in Brazil, if the media found out what he was doing in the US. One year later, in 2018, Eduardo Bolsonaro was introduced to Donald Trump, Jr. by Royce Gracie. And in August of that year, Eduardo Bolsonaro travelled back to the US to meet personally with Steve Bannon, presumably introduced to him by Donald Trump, Jr.
Along with Royce Gracie and Donald Trump Jr., Steve Bannon is connected to the NRA. In 2016, when he was Donald Trump’s campaign CEO he negotiated with NRA more than 21 million dollars to be spent on ads and other pro-Trump materials. A large portion of that sum was spent to attack Hillary Clinton, the Trump’s opponent unsympathetic to gun rights.
The NRA is not only aligned with the American right wing—they also provide support to foreign pro-gun groups and far right parties. They provide legal advice, communication strategies, and contacts with businesses willing to invest millions in those groups and parties. Back in 2003 an NRA lobbyist named Charles Cunningham traveled to Brazil to support pro-gun groups and discuss communication strategies before the gun control referendum happened. The lobbyist traveled to Brazil on invitation from the Brazilian Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property. One of the society’s most important members, Dom Bertrand de Orleans e Bragança, has become one of the icons for Jair Bolsonaro’s supporters.
In the same period of time, from 2016 to 2018, when Eduardo Bolsonaro met with NRA several times, the NRA liaised with Australian far right party One Nation. The Australians were seeking funding for their federal election campaign in 2019. They promised NRA that if they won a few seats in the parliament they would change the gun control legislation in their country, and they would therefore facilitate the trade of guns in Australia. The NRA introduced One Nation representatives to Koch Industries to talk about their campaign funding needs. The politicians suggested that the money could be used to exponentially multiply their social media presence and that the process could be operated from the US. The connection between the NRA, the One Nation party and Koch Industries was revealed by Al Jazeera.
The 2018 Jair Bolsonaro’s campaign was defined by the massive spread of fakenews, especially via WhatsApp, that was funded by more than 150 entrepreneurs against his Workers’ party rival Fernando Haddad. The allegations were published in a front-page report by the Folha de São Paulo, one of Brazil’s leading newspapers. It is still unclear if the Bolsonaro campaign received funds from foreign supporters.
Jair Bolsonaro was elected in October 2018 and started his term January 1, 2019. After only two weeks, on the 15th of January, he signed his first decree to alter the 2003 Disarmament Statute to facilitate the access of guns to civilians. Up through the second month of 2021, Jair Bolsonaro had signed 14 decrees on top of other 14 ministerial resolutions to facilitate the access and sale of guns and ammunition.
In the first year of Bolsonaro’s government, the legislation that controls chemical fertilizers was altered many times. 467 pesticides were approved. 44% of them were banned in European countries. Koch Industries, which the NRA had introduced to the Australian far right One Nation party to discuss funding for their campaign, is one of the world largest producers of fertilizers. A further investigation is needed to find out how much Koch Industries could have profited after the changes in the Brazilian legislation. Consequently, we believe that Koch Industries would have been very inclined to meet with the Bolsonaros to discuss funding for the 2018 presidential campaign, as they did with the Australian far right party in the same period of time.
The importation of guns in Brazil has increased exponentially since 2018, the year when Bolsonaro was campaigning for president while he worked in the parliament as a congressman along with his son Eduardo Bolsonaro to weaken the Disarmament Statute. In 2017 the importation of small arms (pistols and revolvers) represented US $2.2 million. In 2018, the number increased five times to $11.8 million. In 2019, with Bolsonaro already elected, the figure nearly doubled to $21.2 million and in 2020 the number jumped to $29.3 million. In 2020, most of guns were imported from Austria, where Glock is headquartered, followed by United States.
Eduardo Bolsonaro very often promotes the pro-gun group named Pro-Armas in his social media. It seems that Pro-Armas aims to become the Brazilian version of the NRA. They provide consulting and legal advice to gun traders, shooting clubs, and hunting associations, and they have their own membership program. They have representatives in at least ten states in the country. Eduardo Bolsonaro recently posted to Instagram a photo alongside Donald Trump Jr. where he tagged branches of Pro-Armas. Recently, on December 8, 2021, Pro-Armas director Marcos Pollon was lobbying with senators to pass another law to secure more changes in the gun control legislation.
Finally, for those who consider the stabbing of Jair Bolsonaro a plot designed by Steve Bannon, in the day before the stabbing, September 5, 2018, Royce Gracie was in Brazil at Tony Eduardo’s shooting club Clube de Tiro .38 discussing how to change the 2003 Disarmament Statute with pro-gun activist Bene Barbosa. The same day, Eduardo Bolsonaro sent a message to the NRA on his Instagram.