Brazil Overturns Gun Control Decree

SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) -- The Supreme Court has overturned a recent decree that restricted gun sales as part of the government's fight against rising crime.

Ruling on an appeal, the court's 11 justices voted unanimously to overturn a June 21 decree that banned the issuing of gun permits through the end of the year.

Chief Justice Carlos Velloso said the decree had no impact on crime in a country where recent statistics say a killing takes place every 13 minutes. ''Criminals don't buy their weapons in gun stores,'' he said.

The court agreed with arguments that the decree undermined the right to self-defense and violated the constitution's free-enterprise guarantees.

The government had issued the decree as a stopgap measure that was to remain in place until a gun-control bill that has been stuck in Congress for months is approved.

The bill would restrict possession of firearms to the armed forces, police, private security personnel, collectors and gun clubs and people living in rural areas.

The decree was part of a major anti-crime package introduced in June. The $1.7 billion National Security Law also provides for the hiring of 2,000 new federal agents, improved training and equipment for police forces and better street lighting.

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