Let’s say no to gun ownership
Gun ownership is a big debate in the United States. U.S. President Barack Obama cried while announcing measures for gun control.
It is normal; we are talking about a country where the number of firearms is higher than the adult population and where 30,000 people lose their lives each year in armed attacks.
How about Turkey?
While we see guns in domestic violence, in disagreements, in traffic or in fights on the street, do we talk about gun control and make an issue out of it?
Not only do we not make an issue about it, but following the notorious coup talk started on facilitating people getting gun licenses.
If you were to scan the news for murders you would see one about a man who shot his wife and two kids dead and then shot himself. Another killed his wife and wounded two police officers. You would see lots of these kinds of stories.
As violence is on the rise and current policies cannot slow down violence… to talk about facilitating gun ownership, instead of gun control? Really? I don’t want to believe it.
According to the statistics by the Hope Foundation at least five people are killed by guns every day in Turkey.
71 percent of armed crimes are committed with firearms like guns and rifles.
Turkey ranks 14th among 178 countries in terms of rise in individual gun ownership. There was a 61.9-percent rise in legal cases over firearm incidents from 2005 to 2014.
The number of individually-owned guns is estimated to be 20 million in Turkey.
And they are in accessible places. Either they are carried in back pockets, on inside cars or in drawers in offices.
Only 4 million of the 20 million guns are registered. That means 85 percent are not registered.
Getting a license to carry a gun is the easiest thing in Turkey. According to Ayhan Akcan, a board member of the Hope Foundation, a health report and a petition is enough. There is no significant waiting time.
Then why are so many unregistered?
“People don’t want the crimes they commit with arms to be registered. In general they have both registered and unregistered guns. They carry the unregistered [gun] and get rid of it when they commit a crime. Some do not want to pay the annual registration fee,” said Akcan.
In developed European countries getting a gun license is not as easy as in Turkey, according to Akcan, who added there are long waiting periods and serious health examinations required.
Authorities also ask for relevant references. “If the person wants to keep the gun at home, they ask his or her partner. If the person says he or she will get the gun because of his/her profession they ask for a reference from a lawyer. If the person who owns a gun would undergo things like bankruptcy, violence or a deadly sickness, they would get hold of the gun,” Akcan said.
Securing individual justice at gunpoint
To the degree there is loss of confidence, the need for security rises.
In Turkey, confidence in the judiciary is low. People don’t trust each other. Many people in Turkey think they have the right to secure justice or handle their own security by having a gun. “In the oriental culture, guns have a central position. Everyone is responsible for their own security. People apply their own rules and act accordingly,” he said.
This should not be so in a state with rule of law, and we need gun control if we want to create a culture of consensus.