In a world in which violence is stimulated and enabled with the easy access to weapons, the need for marking International Gun Destruction Day loudly is more than clear!
CIVIL – Center for Freedom was part of the initiative, launched by the International Action Network on Small Arms – IANSA at the international level, which envisions proclamation of a date for destruction of weapons in all countries around the world (July 9). Weapons that are a surplus or have been confiscated during one year, according to the principles of this International Gun Destruction Day, have to be destroyed and not reassigned or sold to another country. CIVIL welcomed the decision of the government to accept this date and on July 9, 2004 to carry out the first destruction of weapons that had been handed over in the action for collecting illegal weapons in 2003.
Although not all cases of violence that end with death or suffering involve the possession of illegal firearms, their widespread availability does, however, exacerbate the situation. The proliferation of illegal weapons is a threat to human security. The fact that the origin and monitoring of illegal weapons is often impossible to track, it is difficult to determine the exact statistical data. Nevertheless, from what is known, the figures are terrifying.
Even more disturbing is that not even legal weapons are under serious control! The procedure for acquiring a license is not complicated, and one can say that is even impermissibly easy. At the same time, a certain selectivity is noted in the procedures that is not completely in accordance with the standards, but rather based on a kind of a discretion right on whether to grant a certain person a weapon permit or not. Moreover, the permits themselves are not respected, that is, permits for possessing weapons are used as permits for carrying weapons. At least that is how it was in the past ten years and more. The new government led by SDSM, now needs to face the numerous challenges posed by the large and complex subject of arms control.
CIVIL promoted and has been demanding strict adherence to the International Arms Trade Treaty since 2012. Even though internationally, CIVIL was an exceptionally successful and visible organization, within the framework of the efforts for this treaty to be implemented consistently also at the national level, but with the isolation of the civil society having impacted also CIVIL, at this moment the progress of the implementation of this international treaty is not known, to which we have committed to following its ratification in 2014.
Unfortunately, unlike the period 2002-2006 when the government was open for cooperation with CIVIL on these topics, as well as with international institutions and organizations, such as UNDP and OSCE, in the period 2006-2016, topics related to arms control were neglected, while the work that was being performed was limited and excluded civil society and the public. To achieve this goal, it is necessary to strengthen citizens’ trust in the institutions and the rule of law. Unfortunately, the insignificant number of activities of the institutions in this direction only hide the reality in which the society lives in.
In the region, only the citizens of Serbia have more registered weapons than the citizens of Macedonia, according to the data from “Washington Post” from 2016. These data indicate that in Macedonia there are 24,1 pieces of registered weapons per 100 citizens, or almost every fourth citizen possesses a weapon. CIVIL, unfortunately, cannot share with the public the latest data concerning weapons, as the MOI has still not responded to the questions we raised during the Global Week of Action Against Armed Violence, which CIVIL has been marking from the very beginning of its membership in the relevant international networks and expert bodies. We believe that the documentation and analytical data concerning this topic that has been neglected by the previous authorities, will soon be consolidated and will be shared with our organization for further analyses and preparation of a strategy for renewing activities in the field of arms control.
International Gun Destruction day is a reminder that the work of the institutions has to be committed to solving and preventing gun violence. In a world in which the security challenges are enormous, the need for involving civil society is more than obvious, whereas the approach to these topics has to be complex and multidisciplinary.