It’s a quiet street in a pretty rough part of São Paulo, but the sound of high-velocity gunfire and the thump of shells hitting every few seconds is a little disconcerting.

We ring the doorbell of an innocuous-looking building; after a few minutes, the thick metal door opens and we are greeted by a man wearing a smart black jacket over a bulletproof vest.

He ushers us in and the door closes. In front of us, another metal door opens, and through a cloud of barbecue-scented smoke, we are greeted by the sound of gunfire.

It’s the G-16 Gun Club and it’s open 24 hours a day. It’s lunch time, and the BBQ, which is included in the membership fee, is outside.

In Art Brazil the president Jair Bolsonarogun clubs have been opening at a staggering rate of one per day for the past four years.

The atmosphere is friendly, but business. At the tables, people are filling out forms for gun licenses. While playing, with pistols in holsters and wearing military uniforms, members and coaches prepare for the shooting ranges scattered around the building.

Machine guns line the walls, and pistols stand in the display cases.

The young woman explains that people with rights can buy and take away pistols, but automatic machines must be ordered.

“Or you can borrow them while you’re here and use them at the range,” she adds with a beaming smile.

Private gun ownership has risen sharply under Mr Bolsonaro’s right-wing government.

He and his supporters dispute that bearing arms is a fundamental right, although, unlike the United States, it is not actually mentioned in Brazil’s constitution.

“Bolsonaro is a gun lover”

G-16 club owner Gustavo Pazzini is proud of how much his business has grown over the past few years. He started with one club and now has four out of 12,000 members.

He is an avid supporter of Bolsonaro – a photo of the president hangs in the lobby of the club.

“Bolsonaro is a gun enthusiast, a military man, a pro-freedom politician, and he managed to make some changes and that generally heated up the market, and that reignited the dreams of gun-enthusiast, gun-loving Brazilians. “

This is a fast growing sector and this is another key challenge in this desperately bitter election struggle.

Brazilians will head to the polls next Sunday for a run-off vote after both Mr Bolsonaro and his rival Lula da Silva failed to win enough votes to win outright.

The highly polarized vote will determine whether the country returns a leftist to the helm of the world’s fourth-largest democracy or keeps the far-right leader in office for another four years.

In what is likely to be the country’s most critical election since the end of the military dictatorship in 1985, Mr. da Silva of the leftist Workers’ Party won 48.26% of the vote to Mr. Bolsonaro’s 43.34%.

G-16 club owner Gustavo Pazzini.  Stuart Ramsay's story on gun ownership in Brazil.  Submitted by Dominique/S Ramsay.  Uploaded on October 10, 2022.
G-16 club owner Gustavo Pazzini

The threat of election-related violence

An hour or so outside of Sao Paulo, we left the main road and drove towards a row of cabins at the edge of a large open space.

Even in our car, the firing of machine guns, pump-action guns and revolvers was really loud.

It’s an assault shooting range, sort of a country club for gun enthusiasts and a training ground for police officers and more serious gun club enthusiasts in uniform who want to learn combat skills like the military.

There are fears that groups supporting Bolsonaro will turn into US arms supporting Trump.

This fear was accentuated by the closeness of the election and the threat of election-related violence.

But a day at the assault shooting range is also a family affair.

The Stop family at the training ground.  Stuart Ramsay's story on gun ownership in Brazil.  Submitted by Dominique/S Ramsay.  Uploaded on October 10, 2022.
The Stop family together at the shooting range

“I think it’s cool”

All generations of the Stop family are at the range with a variety of weapons and an instructor showing them how to use them.

Eighteen-year-old Georgia is shooting a gun for the first time today.

“I think it’s so cool, I’m so happy,” she excitedly told us after the shotgun blast.

Her proud mom took pictures all the time.

Their instructor is deadly serious, but there is laughter and smiles throughout the lesson.

The owner of the Assault club, a former police officer, has no doubt that anything but Bolsonaro’s victory will be bad for him and his business.

President Bolsonaro has used executive powers to loosen previously strict gun laws imposed by his election rival Mr da Silva.

“People are worried about Lula’s return to government, of course, if his initial position is to disarm the population. The more insecure, the more disarmed and the more illiterate the population is, the better for them,” explained the club owner. i

On our way back from Assault, we stopped at one of the largest gun stores in the country.

The ISA comes complete with an upscale café-restaurant and a pristine interior, with mood lighting and glass cabinets full of shiny weapons of all kinds.

Clovis Aguiar.  Stuart Ramsay's story on gun ownership in Brazil.  Submitted by Dominique/S Ramsay.  Uploaded on October 10, 2022.
Clovis Aguilar shows off his imported weapons

It is a very successful business and has flourished under Mr. Bolsonaro.

A gun shop owner told us he takes in £1.7m every month.

Clovis Aguilar showed Jorge Seif, a Bolsonaro-backed senator who is a major player in politics here, the weapons he had imported from his factory in Israel.

I asked the senator if he wanted one of the weapons – yes, he replied enthusiastically, laughing.

Senator Jorge Seif.  Stuart Ramsay's story on gun ownership in Brazil.  Submitted by Dominique/S Ramsay.  Uploaded on October 10, 2022.
Senator Jorge Seif is confident of victory in the elections

Mr. Seif is confident that Mr. Bolsonaro will win and says that if he does, and they control the Senate, they will change gun laws forever.

“When a socialist government, a dictatorial government, a repressive government comes to power, their first action is to disarm the population,” he said, referring to Lula da Silva’s Workers’ Party.

“But President Bolsonaro is showing his commitment to the Brazilian people, right? Most of all, he respects democracy because he trusts his people when he gives them the right to buy firearms.”

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Mr da Silva and his supporters say having more guns in a country that already has a terrible crime record is ill-advised at best.

Mr. Bolsonaro’s followers disagree, arguing that guns allow people to protect themselves.

Like so many things in this election, they will never agree.