Brazil gun maker's shares rise as Bolsonaro decree fires up demand

Handguns are displayed at the Taurus International Firearms booth at a gun show in 2011 in Las Vegas

Shares in Brazilian arms maker Taurus soared Tuesday after the company said it had received 2,000 orders for a high-powered assault weapon now available to the public under President Jair Bolsonaro's relaxed gun laws.

Far-right Bolsonaro's controversial decree this month, which is being challenged in the Supreme Court and Congress, makes millions of Brazilians eligible to carry loaded weapons in public.

Taurus shares rose 7.60 percent to 3.68 reais on the Sao Paulo stock exchange, which itself closed 2.76 percent higher, after the company told Globo TV that it had a "waiting list" of 2,000 people for the T4 assault weapon.

The T4, designed for police and military use, could be commercialized after Bolsonaro's decree raised the maximum firepower allowed for the public, Taurus said.

Bolsonaro, a former army captain, has defended the decree as honoring the result of a 2005 referendum in which nearly 64 percent of Brazilians rejected a law that included, among other things, a total ban on the sale of firearms.

But experts warn the loosening of restrictions will fuel gun violence in a country which already has one of the highest homicide rates in the world.

Brazil recorded 64,000 murders in 2017 -- a rate of almost 31 per 100,000 inhabitants, or three times higher than the level the United Nations classifies as endemic violence.