The Serbian Interior Ministry has said that individuals could hand over illegally kept weapons between May 8th and June 8th without facing any charges or legal consequences.
Those who ignore the order will face prosecution and if convicted, can potentially spend years behind bars, Serbian government officials have warned.
“We invite all citizens who possess illegal weapons to respond to this call, to go to the nearest police station and hand in weapons for which they do not have proper documents,” police official Jelena Lakicevic said.
The voluntary surrender applies to all firearms, explosive devices such as grenades, weapon parts and ammunition that people keep illegally at their homes, Lakicevic said.
In his third address to the nation since the killings, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said Sunday, “We expect to collect millions of bullets that way.”
The entire Western Balkans are awash with hundreds of thousands of illegal weapons following 1990s wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo.
Tens of thousands of illegal firearms have since been handed over or registered in amnesties. But Serbia still ranks third in the world, behind the United States and Yemen, in the number of firearms per capita, with an estimated 39 firearms per 100 people, along with its former federal partner Montenegro, according to the 2018 Small Arms Survey.
Hunting is widespread with over 78,000 of Serbia’s 6.6 million people having licensed hunting weapons, and many families have had guns in their households for generations.
People over the age 18 may own firearms only with a permit issued after a thorough background check with police. A medical exam is also mandatory and must be repeated every five years.
There must be no history of crime, mental disorder, alcohol or illegal substance use, firearms must be stored locked in a designated gun cabinet and may be confiscated if the owner is found to be irresponsible.
Gun owners are also required to pass a training course and a questionnaire about gun legislation.
Having a permit to own a firearm does not itself allow the bearer to carry the weapon anywhere outside the home. Concealed carry permits are very difficult to obtain.
(Naslovi.net, BBC Serbia, 08.05.2023)
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