Civic group presses for gun ownership control

Civic group presses for gun ownership control

Göksel Bozkurt ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Civic group presses for gun ownership control

Empty shoes seen during a recent protest organized by Umut (Hope) Foundation in Istanbul against armament represent victims killed in gun attacks in Turkey. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

Backed by the main opposition, a prominent civic group will submit a proposal for an amendment to tighten control over individual gun ownership to the parliamentary constitution-making panel.

Umut (Hope) Foundation, a leading campaigner against individual disarmament, will submit its proposal today when its representatives appear before the Constitution Conciliation Commission to convey their input for the new charter.

“The new constitution must definitely put responsibility on the government on curbing gun ownership. We believe that Umut Foundation will make a very significant contribution,” Atilla Kart, a commission member for the Republican People’s Party (CHP), told the Hürriyet Daily News.

“Gun ownership is on the rise in Turkey. The number of unlicensed weapons is also increasing. We have failed to draw up even a law to prevent that due to the very dynamic interference of armament lobbies,” he said.

Kart called also for arrangements that would make it more difficult for foreigners to purchase weapons in Turkey, pointing to the recent shooting spree by a Libyan national at Topkapı Palace in Istanbul.
According to regulations at the time, it was sufficient for foreigners to merely present their passports in order to purchase a firearm, although the weapon was supposed to be handed over to the customer unassembled. On the grounds of these weak restrictions, Samir Salem Ali Elmadhavri, 36, who was shot dead Nov. 30 inside the walls of the Topkapı Palace Museum after wounding two people, assembled his gun at a coffeehouse prior to the attack.

Police later issued a regulation banning arms sales to foreigners until further notice.

According to statistics compiled by Umut Foundation, about 8 million guns are currently in the possession of Turkish citizens, with only 2.5 million of them licensed. Taking into account the families of the gun owners, the figure means that some 40 million people have access to firearms. The foundation estimates that more than 4,000 people were killed by firearms over the past year, with most incidents of armed violence taking place between relatives or acquaintances.

Psychiatrist Arhan Akçan, who is also the spokesperson for Umut Foundation, told the Hürriyet Daily News recently that the demand for arms has been constantly increasing in recent years and the sales of guns have to be brought under control.

Umut Foundation was established by the mother of Umut Dedeman, a teenage scion of the prominent hoteliers’ family Dedeman, who was shot dead by a friend in 1993.