Brazil Senate proposal calls for vote on gun sales

AP News
Posted: Apr 12, 2011 6:37 PM
Brazil Senate proposal calls for vote on gun sales

Five days after Brazil's most lethal school shooting killed 12 children, Senate leaders decided Tuesday to rush a bill that would let the voters decide whether to forbid gun sales in South America's biggest country.

Senate leader Jose Sarney said at a news conference that legislators would treat the matter with urgency so the issue could be put before Brazilian citizens this fall.

The bill would have to be approved by both the Senate and the House before going on the ballot. A similar proposal in 2005 was strongly rejected by voters and kept gun sales legal.

The federal government also proposed launching a disarmament campaign in May that would pay Brazilians to turn in firearms.

Calls for tighter controls on guns increased in the legislature after Wellington Oliveira, 23, walked into his former school in a working class neighborhood of Rio state on Thursday and shot a dozen children to death, many of them in the head.

Four students were still hospitalized Tuesday, two of them in critical condition, the Rio state health department said.

The shooter, who friends and family said had a history of psychological problems, killed himself, an autopsy report confirmed Tuesday.

Investigators told the newspaper Estado de Sao Paulo that they have concluded Oliveira was the only person responsible.

They told the paper they concluded written material gathered at Oliveira's house, which included a sort of diary that discussed meetings with men named Abdul and Phillip and mentioned plans for an attack in Malaysia, were fantasies of a man known to have a mental illness. There are no other signs Oliveira was connected to any religious or political group of extremists, the investigators said.

A ceremony, meanwhile, was held to honor the three highway police officers who were the first to respond to the shooting.

One of them, Marcio Alexandre Alves, was able to shoot the gunman in the legs and stop him from continuing his rampage through the Tasso da Silveira school. After he was felled, the shooter killed himself.

Alves and the two other responding policemen ran into the school after they were called by children who were escaping the shooting.

The officers were honored and promoted for their bravery.

"Beyond their courage, they had the sense of opportunity and the serenity to act," said Vice President Michel Temer, who handed the decorations to Alves at the public ceremony in Rio police headquarters.