Thousands of Guns Turned in After 2 Mass Shootings in Serbia

Thousands of Guns Turned in After 2 Mass Shootings in Serbia

The Interior Ministry last week also urged gun owners to store firearms unloaded and locked in a cabinet and separated from ammunition. Those that were not stored properly would be seized, the ministry warned, promising a close review of the country’s registry for gun owners.

Serbia has tried gun amnesty programs before. But this recent effort was unprecedented in its success, according to Mr. Vucic, who said the total weaponry collected in this first week exceeded all four previous programs in the country combined.

Still, the weapons turned in this week appeared to be just a small proportion of the total number of guns in the country, a figure that has been difficult to determine. Approximately 2.7 million firearms were held by civilians at the end of 2017, but fewer than half were registered with the government, according to The Small Arms Survey.

Gun ownership is partly the legacy of the wars that followed the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. The government estimates that around 400,000 people, about 6 percent of the population, legally own guns, excluding hunting weapons. Up to now, however, mass shootings had been rare.

Serbia now ranks third in the world for gun ownership, after the United States and Yemen (and tied with Montenegro). It is awash with weapons, many in stockpiles that remain from the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

Other mass shootings across the world have prompted governments to enact stricter gun laws.

The British government banned semiautomatic weapons in 1987, after a gunman killed 16 people. Handguns were banned in Britain nearly a decade later, after a school shooting in 1996. After peaking in 2003 and 2004, the number of firearm offenses in Britain fell by 53 percent by 2011, the government reported.

A massacre in Australia in 1996 prompted a gun buyback program that removed an estimated 20 percent of firearms from circulation. It also “caused reductions in firearm suicides, mass shootings and female homicide victimization,” a RAND study concluded.

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