Brazil's top court bans guns from capital ahead of Lula inauguration

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil's Supreme Court on Wednesday banned registered gun-owners from carrying firearms in the federal district until after the inauguration of President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, in reaction to recent episodes of political violence.

Justice Alexandre de Moraes temporarily suspended licenses that permit hunters, marksmen and collectors to carry guns, firearms and ammunition in the region where the capital city of Brasilia is located.

The measure will be in place from Wednesday evening to Jan. 2, the day after Lula's inauguration, according to Moraes' decision, which was reviewed by Reuters.

The move comes as tensions remain high in the South American country after the most fraught election in a generation, in which leftist Lula narrowly defeated far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro.

Bolsonaro supporters have been camping outside army barracks urging the military to stage a coup. The Brasilia camp, outside the army headquarters, has become one of the most extreme.

On Dec. 12, the day Lula's victory was certified, some of the camp dwellers attacked the federal police headquarters in Brasilia. On Saturday, a man was arrested for attempting to set off a bomb in protest of the election results and said Bolsonaro's call to arms inspired him to build up an arsenal.

The number of registered gun-owners in Brazil has surged six-fold to around 700,000 people since Bolsonaro began loosening gun laws in 2019.

Moraes said in his decision that anyone caught breaking the ban should be arrested. The prohibition does not affect members of security forces and employees of private security firms.

Incoming Justice Minister Flavio Dino cheered the ruling, saying the move would ensure greater security at the inauguration. He said Lula's team had requested the Supreme Court suspend firearm licenses.

(Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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