Project: Targeting weapons - misuse of weapons in Serbia

Public Policy Research Centre’s Analysis on firearms misuse featured in the daily “Vecernje Novosti" on Sunday

Vecernje Novosti ("Evening News") in its Sunday edition featured early results of the Public Policy Research Centre’s analysis on weapons misuse in Serbia produced for UNDP’s SEESAC, as part of their project "Targeting Weapons".

One of the most popular daily newspapers in Serbia „Večernje novosti“ in its Sunday issue published the feature story related to the consequences of illegal weapons possession in Serbia, titled "2,000,000 guns and bombs in Serbia". The paper quoted the president of the CENTAR Svetlana Djurdjevic Lukic who offered some findings  of the Public Policy Research Centre’ s team analysis of the data available at UNDP’s SEESAC platform " Targeting Weapons".

UNDP/SEESAC commissioned the Centre for Public Policy Research to analyse data on SALW related incidents collected via the Targeting Weapons (Oruzje na meti) platform launched by SEESAC in 2012. The analysis is based on 470 entries gathered mainly through news reports. The analysis, as well as the platform, were supported by European Union funds.

The CENTAR’s team analyzed these weapons misuse incidents according to the type of weapon used, the (il)legality of possession, the outcome of the incident, the gender and age of the victims and the perpetrators, their relationship, the context of the incidents, a location of incident, time of the year as well as time of the day. All data of the study’s findings will be available in late May.

One of the findings is that the media recorded 22 incidents - situations where misused weapons were possessed legally, and in 120 cases illegally. For 258 situations, the origin of weapons remained unknown. Although incomplete, these data indicate widely use of unregistered weapons –six times more in conflict situations than legal weapons. "If it was legalized, the perpetrators would be, thanks to the database, more easily discovered”, said Svetlana Djurdjevic Lukic to Vecernje novosti.

Despite the popular opinion and more frequent reporting of incidents in which a firearm was used in the criminal context, only seven percent of such incidents ended in death - 11 cases. A higher number of citizens was killed, both in percent as well as in absolute terms, in a situation when weapons were used in context of domestic violence (12), in murder cases due strife provoked by property or money related issues or jealousy (15).

"This destroys our idea that ‘ordinary citizen’ has nothing to do with misuse of weapons and that firearm abuse is primarily related to crime", said Svetlana Djurdjevic-Lukic.

According to the results of the analysis of weapon used in the incidents even 84 percent can be legalized (revolvers and hunting rifles), and only 16 percent by law cannot (automatic rifles, grenades, explosive materials). That is one more reason to intensify legalization.

"The victims of firearms misuse are mostly civilians, women and children, both in local conflicts as well as accidents and domestic violence. The elimination of illegal weapons contributes to safety, though one should not ignore the misuse of legally held weapons," said the CENTAR’s director.