crime prevention

Rising Demands for New Weapon Amnesty

Swedish police are worried about a rising number of crimes committed with illegally owned firearms. Rivaling gangs of mostly young criminals are pulling the trigger more and more often. Recently the police department of Malmö in the south of Sweden appealed to the ministry of justice to pass a new weapons amnesty. And after another execution-style killing in a Stockholm suburb a few weeks ago, local politicians also suggested an amnesty. They hope that a drain of unlawfully possessed guns will contribute to a reining-in of capital crimes. In 1993 the first amnesty of this kind encouraged citizens to deliver a total of 17,000 firearms, including some submachine guns, to the authorities.

Another weapon amnesty, enacted three years ago, produced similar results. But there are doubts that these actions achieve their initial goal. Because while law-abiding citizens may willingly surrender the squirrel gun they found in their passed-away grandfather’s summer cottage, the die-hard criminals may not be ready for such co-operation with the law. Still, the government is willing to give it another try. Asked, what she thinks of this method of crime-prevention, justice minister Beatrice Ask told Swedish Radio: “There is no imminent decision on a weapon amnesty, but we had one a few years ago and that was really successful. I do believe that we can have a new amnesty during the next legislative period, and if it is up to me, we will have one. I can hardly imagine that there will be any resistance to it.” In previous weapon amnesties the majority of surrendered firearms were rifles and shotguns. Only a small number of pistols and revolvers came to light. But it’s just that type of handgun that criminals prefer. And to this day police are trying to find a certain .357 Magnum Smith&Wesson revolver – the weapon that Prime Minister Olof Palme was assassinated with in 1986.

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