As the individual acquisition of arms is rising in Turkey, with the number of registered and unregistered guns rising tenfold just in the past decade, a change in regulation on the use of firearms raises concerns about a potential increase in the number of deaths. The scope of those who can purchase licensed guns has been expanded and important changes have been made in the article regarding the situations that prevent the issuance of gun licenses, according to the new regulation published in the Official Gazette. The latest regulation makes it possible to reissue carrying permission or possession licenses to those deemed “inconvenient.” Personal guns of those who are prosecuted for certain crimes, including those against whom injunctions have been issued in the context of preventing violence against women, will be held in custody until the end of the judicial process. However, experts voice their concerns about the recent changes to the regulation. Ayhan Akcan, a board member of Umut Foundation, which is a nongovernmental organization that fights against individuals’ acquisition of arms, stated that one of the most important points in the amendment made was that those convicted of crimes committed with firearms would be able to apply for a license five years after serving their prison sentences. “It is inconvenient that these people will be able to obtain a license again after five years. I wish no one in Turkey except the security forces had a gun. Unfortunately, gun-related crimes rise when you increase the number of licenses for carrying,” Akcan noted. He pointed out that the amendment made in the regulation should be a regulation that would prevent individual armament. “In Turkey, where there are 25 million guns, 85 percent of which are unlicensed, the incidence of violence has increased by 69 percent in the last four years,” Akcan noted, adding that there was no deterrent clause in the new regulation regarding crimes such as murder, injury or extortion. Lawyer Tuncer Eşsizhan, who lost his 2.5-year-old grandson due to a bullet that hit him 18 years ago and later founded the Individual Armament Response Platform, also criticized the change in the regulation. “This change reveals that human life is not valued and the right to life is not respected,” Eşsizhan noted. “Individual armament is as dangerous for society as COVID-19. None of us are safe; a stray bullet could hit one of us at any time,” he added. Lawyer Şükran Eroğlu also pointed out that in the Law on the Prevention of Violence Against Women, judges should decide whether the perpetrator should hand over the weapon, if any, but they make a difficult decision in this regard.
Hurriyet Daily News