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Turkey: Draft Firearms Legislation Suspended by Parliamentary Committee

(Jan. 3, 2011) It was reported in late December 2010 that a draft law on firearms that had been approved by the Internal Affairs Subcommittee of Turkey's Parliament has been suspended. The Umut Foundation, an anti-gun nongovernment organization in Turkey, and some other civil society organizations, were successful in mobilizing public opinion against the proposed changes to current legislation. (Umut Foundation Objects [to] the Draft Law on Guns/Firearms, TUSEV E-NEWSLETTER, No. 8 (Sept.-Dec. 2010), via email from [email protected].)

Among the bill's provisions that had triggered public criticism was the lowering of the minimum age for possession of a shotgun to 18; at present 21 is the minimum legal age permitted for possession of any type of weapon. The bill would have also made access to guns easier, allowing individuals to own up to five weapons, with the right to carry two at a time. In addition, it simplified the health requirement for firearms licensing, by providing that any doctor's report would be sufficient in order for an individual to obtaining a weapons possession license. Under current law, a report from the Health Commission is necessary. (Draft Law to Ease Regulations on Gun Ownership Draws Ire, AYŞE KARABAT (Dec. 14, 2010),available at
; Regulation Regarding Firearms, Knives and Other Tools (No. 91/1179 of 1991),

Speaking in October 2010, Nazire Dedeman, head of the Umut Foundation, stated that the NGO was especially opposed to the draft law “because it contains no central data bank, no compulsory education certificate prior to obtaining the license, no license investigation and no automatic cancellation system.” Dedeman considered the legislation was “also dangerous because it will liberalize rules over gun advertisements, reduce the number of mental health examinations necessary to acquire a weapon and permit more occupational groups to bear arms if their job is considered 'dangerous.'” (Gül Demir & Niki Gamm, Bill Liberalizing Gun Possession Laws Inexplicable, Turkish NGO Head Says,HÜRRIYET DAILY NEWS (Oct. 8, 2010),
; see also Explanation and Suggestions of Umut Foundation Regarding the Draft Law on Guns/Firearms Accepted by Internal Affairs Subcommittee, Umut Foundation website (Mar. 2, 2010),

Some anti-gun Turkish civil society groups stressed that the above-mentioned provisions would result in more crime, and particularly threaten the lives of women and children. Supporters of the amendments argued, however, that relaxed licensing procedures would make it easier to track the weapons. (AYŞE KARABAT, supra.)

The Umut Foundation estimates that “in 2009 there were around 2.5 million licensed weapons and 7.5 million unlicensed weapons” in Turkey. (Id.) According to a 2007 study, the rate of civilian firearm possession in Turkey was 12.5 firearms per 100 people; the same study found that Turkey ranked number 14 in a comparison of the number of privately owned guns held in 178 countries. (Aaron Karp,Completing the Count: Civilian Firearms, in SMALL ARMS SURVEY 2007: GUNS AND THE CITY 67 (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2007), cited in Turkey – Gun Facts, Figures and the Law, GUNPOLICY.ORG (last updated Dec. 22, 2010),