Minister presents draft law on weapons to MPs

It is estimated there are "between 200,000 and 900,000" illegal firearms currently in Serbia, Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic told parliament on Wednesday.

Source: Beta, Tanjug
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"Just this difference in the estimate shows that there is much to do to solve this problem. In recent years we have witnessed several tragic incidents in which mostly weapons in illegal possession were used, and a small number of legally owned ones," Stefanovic said, presenting a draft Law on Weapons and Ammunition.

The minister added that a large amount of illegal weapons in Serbia requires planned measures, and added that in practice "legalization measures proved to be the most effective."

He recalled there were five such campaigns since 1992 and that during the last, in 2007, over 8,455 pieces of different weapons were handed over to the authorities.

Stefanovic said that the new law will allow for "more effective control of possession and trafficking of weapons, which would prevent its misuse and improve the safety of the citizens of Serbia."

According to the minister, legal weapon owners would be permitted to possess weapons and use them for lawful purposes - for hunting, sport, self-defense and collections.

Stefanovic told MPs that the new legislation, which will be aligned with EU directives, would tighten the requirements weapon owners had to meet.

In addition to the existing requirements, the new legislation proposal is introducing two new ones – a health requirement and a legitimate reason to possess a weapon, he said.

Stefanovic said that evidence of meeting the health criteria would have to be provided when submitting requests for procurement of weapons, and would also be required once every five years.

According to him, the police is allowed to prohibit the possession of weapons whenever it may establish that there is a risk of misuse.

Speaking to reporters in parliament later in the day, Stefanovic said he was "ready to issue an invitation for legalization of weapons" as soon as the new law comes into force.

He called on the Committee on Defense and Internal Affairs to submit an amendment to the draft legislation that would enable a legalization campaign to start within a week of the law coming into force.

The original draft envisaged the legalization to start a year after the law came into effect, and last for three months.

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