The individual acquisition of arms is rising in Turkey, with the number of registered and unregistered personal guns up tenfold in the past decade.
Most of the weapons are unlicensed, according to a report published by daily Cumhuriyet on Dec. 25. The daily also said the reason for the move to acquire arms is the lack of “feeling of security in Turkey.”
According to a report prepared by the Umut Foundation, which fights against the individual acquisition of arms, the increase in civilian arming stems from the increase in the number of terror attacks and regulations regarding hunting.
“The fact that violence and war news are always on the agenda, as well as the explosion of bombs, could be seen as reasons why people feel insecure and fearful,” Umut Foundation Board Member Dr. Ayhan Akcan said.
“There is a thought that people can protect themselves in a scenario like a coup attempt if they arm themselves. We are against it. Citizens who think that they can protect themselves like that hang onto weapons. There is a weapon in one in two houses in Turkey. It corresponds to nearly 19 million and there is an increase in demand for unregistered weapons,” he also said.
According to data obtained by the foundation, there are around 20 million individual weapons in Turkey, nearly 85 percent of which are unregistered. Nearly everyone in Turkey is capable of obtaining a weapon and some 17 million weapons are without licenses, whereas a small amount, nearly 2.5 million, are licensed.
When calculated population-wise, one in four citizens has a weapon in Turkey, making it 27th in the world in terms of gun ownership.
Some 65 percent of the crimes that are committed with individual weapons are carried out with firearms.
Unlicensed weapons are used in nearly 84 percent of the crimes that are committed with firearms.
According to statistics from the Umut Foundation, a total of 2,175 armed incidents were covered in the news in 2015. Some 71 percent of the incidents that were committed with firearms and edged weapons were carried out using firearms like rifles and pistols, while 29 percent were carried out with sharp objects.
Of the 71 percent, 39 percent were carried out with rifles, which corresponds to 857 incidents, 28 percent – or 605 incidents – were with pistols, while 4 percent – or 87 incidents – were carried out with service pistols.
The majority of the incidents involving service pistols stemmed from suicides committed by soldiers and police officers.
Akcan criticized the easy access to heavy weapons such as pump-action shotguns.
“You can get pump-action shotguns with a simple hunting license. You can obtain one just by giving your identification. This is one of the factors that has increased arming,” he said.