It took just two mass shootings for Serbia to impose gun controls

A pile of surrendered handguns
A pile of surrendered handguns

After two mass shootings in Serbia this month, tens of thousands gathered in Belgrade to demand gun control. Within days, Serbia’s president, Aleksandar Vucic, announced a “general disarmament” of the country, with high penalties for anyone who possesses a gun without a permit. A moratorium on new weapons permits and a review of current gun licenses was also announced in the wake of the shootings.

Serbia is one of the top civilian gun-owning countries in the world, with the Small Arms Survey, produced by a Swiss-based think tank, estimating there are 39.1 firearms for every 100 residents. But citizens and authorities seem unified in their desire for gun control: Serbian citizens surrendered around 6,000 weapons, some dating as far back as WWII, and 300,000 rounds of ammunition within the first three days of the amnesty.

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The protests have been aimed not only at gun control, but at the perpetuation of violence by Serbian media and at government officials who protestors accuse of oppression, corruption, and ties to organized crime. The mass shooting at a Belgrade school earlier this month sparked concerns about school shootings like those that have become prevalent in the United States.


Other countries with high gun ownership

The US by far has the most civilian-owned firearms in the world, at 120.5 guns per 100 residents. With more guns than people, and a climbing number of mass shootings each year, the US has not been able to institute gun control. This year alone, the US has had 227 mass shootings, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

Serbia has a national association for gun owners, but it is nothing like the NRA in the US, which lobbies politicians to influence gun policy. Gridlocked political disputes on the American right to bear arms have left citizens fending for themselves, with terms like “bulletproof backpack” and “ban guns” being searched on Google by Americans after a mass shooting.

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