The problem of women living under the threat of a gun in Serbia lies in the two following questions: How do you acquire a weapon and what are the criteria to refuse it to the applicant?
First queerness. Of all pieces of information to be submitted to fulfill the gun acquisition application, no medical examination is required. If a certificate indicating that the person knows how to handle a firearm must be submitted by an homologous center, it doesn’t come along with a medical exam, checking out the physical, mental health but also, the integrity of the applicant. Shouldn’t we always make sure that the user of a potentially deadly object has all its capacities to use it with cautiousness and accurately? This is even more true in Serbia where all the persons I met on the way pointed out that men who have come back from wars (today aged between 35-55) were traumatized, brutalized and brutal, sometimes suffering from post traumatic troubles. According to studies led by behavioral psychology, the latter have been recently associated to violent behavior that reproduce the horrors experienced.
Criteria to refuse a gun also casts doubt on the viability of the process. More or less, they are all oriented toward the potential danger a gun represents in the public space, with in line of sights, the injuries that can be caused to a third party… In this evaluation, the big forgotten group is the very close family members. Thus, according to Article 8, second paragraph of the law on weapons and ammunitions, (amended for the last time in 2005), a gun can’t be delivered for a person convicted of crimes that can be qualified of “grave” (against constitutional order, territorial integrity and sovereignty, high representatives of the State, terrorism… ). If the word is badly chosen, « intermediary crimes » are also obstacles to the acquisition of a firearm ( taking part in fights; kidnapping; rape; robbery; provoking general danger; violent behavior, etc…)
Other specific provisions deny the access of a firearm to under-aged individuals, to individuals under an on-going criminal procedure, or, more surprising, to individuals who are unable to work… But nothing, nothing on the existence of a past or present situation of domestic violence. In sum, the permit to acquire a firearm will be refused to a person who caused troubles in the public space or to third partes. But the very existence of troubles in family relations, as known as they can be, won’t be a criteria to deny access to a gun. This is regrettable, all the more so the argument isn’t logic : domestic violence, often reported to the police without initiating judicial proceedings, includes the situations mentioned below: fights, marital rapes, violent behaviors creating dangers for others.. all this is, sadly, usual in situations of domestic violence.
It’s easy to imagine what situations can come out of these negligence. Possibility is given to men, whose eventual pathologies are not detected, to acquire a weapon, setting aside the possible perturbed family relations they can find themselves in… This is even more dramatic when considering the immediacy of the procedure : there’s no investigation regarding the circumstances and reasons for the acquisition of a weapon, and there’s no intermediary period between the delivery of the permit and the acquisition of the weapon. (Article 9 of the law mentioned above). Permit is valid for 5 years, which is quite long considering the fact that individuals’ situations can change dramatically within this period. (Article 11)
Finally, there’s a need to turn now to the criminal code. It’s obvious that sanction mechanisms following perpetrating of domestic violence, detailed on article 194, are very light. Thus, direct brutalization or threat to attempt to the life of a family member is punished of a year in jail, this time being tripled in the case of a dangerous object or firearm was used. But there’s no specific provision clearly asking the seizure of the weapon in that very particular case….
The changes we fight for consist in linking guns and domestic violence legislations.
Making a record of domestic violence becoming a criteria for denying the access to a gun in the first place. Seizing the weapon in cases when domestic violence exists, in a second step. And finally, considering the number of domestic violence ending in killing of women or families, in the heat of the moment, on an impulse, it is necessary to refine the procedure to take better account of individual situations: by realizing a circumstance inquiry with family members, neighbors, competent institutions ; By letting a month period passes between the acquisition of the permit and the acquisition of the gun; By checking that mental health is stable; Finally, the prorogation of the permit should be submitted for exam every two years, to ensure a better follow-up of the evolution of families’ situations.
Posted By Fanny Grandchamp
Posted Aug 4th, 2009