Jan 15 2019

Gun crime on the rise amid lax enforcement in Turkey, report says

Gun violence has risen dramatically in Turkey in recent years, research by a foundation has found. However, lax enforcement of licensing laws means the problem is unlikely to be resolved without serious measures, Deutsche Welle reported on Tuesday.

The report published by the Istanbul-based Umut Foundation, which maps gun violence across Turkey up to 2018, shows a 69 percent rise in gun violence between 2015, when 2,175 instances were recorded, and 2018, when the figure rose to 3,679.

The most violent regions in the report were Marmara in north-western Turkey, where instances of gun violence rose by 88 percent to 1,032, and in Central Anatolia, where it rose during the same time period from 283 to 646 instances.

Even the Southeast Anatolia, which had the lowest rise, saw instances of gun violence go up by one third.

Ayhan Akcan, a psychiatrist and board member of the foundation, told DW that guns are now used in around 80 percent of murders in Turkey, up from 50 percent 15 years ago and 71 percent in 2015.

The number of murders in which weapons, including guns and knives, are used has increased steadily by 2 percent each year, Akcan said, adding that this was directly linked to the increased use of firearms.

The Umut Foundation’s research reported that, of the 25 million guns found in Turkey, 80 percent are not licenced.

The report added that purchasing a gun had become so easy in Turkey that even children are able to have them delivered to their homes by purchasing them over the internet.

“There are problems in the law, in its implementation, and in the existing system,” Akcan said.

“More than (licencing laws) the problem is accessibility. That’s why we say that, if we’re going to try to toughen up licencing, we must also deter people from carrying guns without a licence. There’s a prison sentence for carrying unlicenced weapons of three months to one-and-a-half years, but this isn’t implemented, they let people off with paying fines,” he said.

The foundation’s report recommends implementing a reference system requiring the consent of a judge to carry a gun or keep one at home, a ban on internet and mail order purchases of guns, and censoring images of guns on television.

“If the right to life is sacred, the state must protect its people’s lives and property. If the state is unable to undertake this noble duty and people arm themselves, unfortunately this can lead to more serious problems,” Akcan said.