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News 06 Apr 16

Bosnians' Illegal Weapons Endanger its Security

Security expert says huge quantity of illegal firearms held in the country represents a threat to Bosnia's security - and to the security of other countries as well.

Rodolfo Toe
BIRN
Sarajevo
 
 Illustration : Pixabay

Bosnians possess a worrying quantity of firearms, which potentially pose a threat to the country's security, a Bosnian arms expert told BIRN on Tuesday.

“There are at least 750,000 illegal firearms in Bosnia ... which basically means that statistically at least 20 per cent of Bosnian residents are armed,” Armin Krzalic, director of the Center for Security Studies in Sarajevo, said.

Krzalic said these weapons represent a danger for several reasons.

“First, they are often old and not reliable ; second, they are often stored in places which are not secured, where – for instance – children might find them; third, they are fueling the black market and organised crime,” Krzalic argued.

Although 750,000 firearms sounds a huge quantity for a country with less than 4 million inhabitants, another 350,000 firearms should be included in the total. These are legally declared weapons held by hunters, local N1 television reported on Tuesday.

According to Krzalic, the main problem for the authorities remains tracking the illegal weapons, which “are used in 95 per cent of recorded crimes”, he noted.

In their latest conflict assessment for Bosnia, published in 2015, the UN noted that illegally acquired weapons and ammunitions from Bosnia have also entered Western Europe, notably the UK, Scandinavia and France, endangering the security of other countries as well.

Experts say the authorities might work better also on controlling licenses and on the sale of legal firearms, noting that problems exist especially in the medical checks which are performed before they issue a license.

“Although Bosnian laws are good, the medical controls are often not undertaken properly… people often obtain a license, or its renewal, after inadequate checks on their physical and psychological state,” Krzalic noted.

According to the UN, another problem is that civilian possession of firearms is currently regulated by each of Bosnia's two entities and, within the Federation entity, by each of its constituent cantons.

“The monitoring of weapons in Bosnia could be done better by creating a central database, which would incorporate information on legal and illegal weapons in the country,” the UN noted.

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