Colombia is the first country in the Americas to pass a national ban on carrying guns. The ban will last a year, but the measure has stirred debate across the country.
CCTV America’s Michelle Begue reports from Bogota.
Colombia becomes first nation in Americans to institute nationwide gun banColombia is the first country in the Americas to pass a national ban on carrying guns. The ban will last a year, but the measure has stirred debate across the country. CCTV America’s Michelle Begue reports from Bogota.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced the extension of the gun ban that was imposed over the holidays. This is the first time the country will prohibit citizens from carrying firearms, in public, across the whole country.
“Ninety percent of the homicides that we have in this country are not because of the armed conflict. Instead it is because of societal aggressions. In Colombia we kill each other between friends, or dumb rivalries, after drinking alcohol,” said John Marulanda, an international security and defense consultant.
Roughly one in every 53 citizens in Colombia has a weapons permit. Under the new decree, about a half million people who have permission to own a gun won’t be able to carry it public.
Opponents of the ban have voiced concerns that the real problem stems from the estimated 2.5 million illegal arms in the country.
“The trafficking of illegal arms in Colombia is huge, so we have a huge unbalance, and that means the citizens are going to be helpless in the face of criminals,” said Colombian Senator Paloma Valencia of the Democratic Center Party.
But Colombia’s Defense Minister said data from the holiday gun ban — which lasted from December 23, 2015 to January 31, 2016 — shows that people were safer. During those five weeks, homicides fell 13 percent compared to the same period in 2015.
Some also suggest that the gun ban was timed to the anticipated signing of a peace agreement with the FARC guerrilla group that would end 50 years of armed conflict. FARC’s surrender of weapons is still being negotiated at peace talks in Havana, Cuba.
Former police officer Ron Martinelli on gun bans
CCTV America interviewed Ron Martinelli, a retired police officer and forensic legal analyst, about the effectiveness of gun bans and the likelihood that Colombia’s gun ban spreading to other countries.