A Brazilian Supreme Court judge on Wednesday issued a four-day ban on carrying firearms in the capital as a precautionary measure ahead of the January 1 inauguration of President-elect Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva.
In his ruling that temporarily suspends the licenses of registered gun owners, Judge Alexandre de Moraes wrote that “terrorist groups financed by shameless magnates” have been committing crimes against the rule of law in recent weeks, which is why public safety had to be made secure via a temporary firearms ban.
If a registered gun owner is caught in Brasilia with a firearm in those four days, they can be prosecuted for illegally carrying a weapon, according to the ruling.
Lula da Silva’s team had requested a ban on firearms at the inauguration days after police arrested a man on suspicion of planting and possessing explosive devices at Brasilia International Airport.
The suspect, identified as 54-year-old gas station manager George Washington de Oliveira Sousa, is a supporter of incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro and told the police in a statement, seen by CNN, that he intended to “create chaos” so as to prevent Lula da Silva from taking office again in January.
The firearms ban was to begin on Wednesday at 6 pm local time (4 pm ET) and will run through the end of Sunday. It will not apply to active members of the armed forces, policemen and private security guards, Moraes wrote.
Even though Bolsonaro’s administration has said it is cooperating with the transition of power, the far-right leader has stopped short of explicitly conceding his election loss on October 30. In protest, thousands of his supporters have gathered at military barracks across the country, asking the army to step in as they claim, with no evidence, that the election was stolen.
According to the police statement, Sousa arrived in Brasilia from his home state of Para on October 12 to join other Bolsonaro supporters, who were camped in front of the Armed Forces headquarters in the city.
Sousa said he was inspired by President Bolsonaro to spend over $30,000 to purchase the guns and ammunition, according to his statement. CNN has reached out to Bolsonaro for comment.
Violence has flared in the country ahead of Lula da Silva’s inauguration.
In mid-December, protesters clashed with police in the capital Brasilia as they attempted to break into a federal police building following the arrest of an outspoken Bolsonaro supporter.