In the first three days of a voluntary disarmament campaign launched by Serbian authorities after two high-profile massacres, Serbian citizens turned in thousands of firearms to the police, writes The Washington Post.
According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Serbia, citizens of the country have already handed over about 6,000 unregistered firearms, 300,000 cartridges and 470 explosive devices, including mines. Earlier, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić announced the start of a campaign for “virtually complete disarmament.” The reason was two high-profile massacres: on May 3, in Belgrade, a schoolboy killed a security guard with a pistol and fatally wounded several students who later died in hospital, and on May 4, a 21-year-old man opened fire at passers-by from a car window in several villages near the city of Mladenovac.
Serbia is one of the leading countries in terms of the number of firearms per capita. According to various sources, it ranks fifth or third in the world in this indicator. Such statistics are explained by military conflicts after the collapse of Yugoslavia, because of which many residents of Serbia acquired weapons.
The voluntary disarmament campaign will run from 8 May to 8 June. The police will not ask citizens about the origin of weapons and will not require documents about their legal status. Moreover, the Serbs may ask the police to come and take away their unregistered weapons.
The mass surrender of weapons will be just one part of the campaign announced by President Vučić. The country’s authorities are also imposing a temporary moratorium on the issuance of new licenses to own hunting rifles and pistols, and are announcing the re-registration of already licensed weapons. In addition, the Serbian government is preparing amendments to legislation that are designed to reduce the number of firearms in the hands of citizens by 20%, tighten the verification of persons with permits to possess them, and increase penalties for offenses in this area.