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Gun Violence: Tragedies in Serbia

On Wednesday, May 3, a shooting took place at a school in the capital Belgrade. A 14-year-old boy shot nine people dead. On Thursday night, May 4, another shooting broke out in Mladenovac, near Belgrade. This time, eight deaths are to be deplored. The phenomenon of gun violence was rare in the country, but this is changing.

The Balkan nation is the second most armed country in the world with nearly 765,000 registered weapons. In 2019, one report was 39.1 firearms per 100 population. These are remnants of the war in the Balkans during the 1990s. It is therefore the European country with the highest rate of gun ownership. It should be noted that the legislation surrounding firearms is very strict in the country.

Shootings a Day Apart

Serbia is in mourning. The country suffered two shootings in the space of 48 hours, including one at a school. A total of 17 people died. While the country had not recovered from the shock and was preparing for three days of national mourning, another shooting took place. Indeed, a 21-year-old man opened fire from his car on passers-by south of the Serbian capital on Thursday, May 4. He was arrested on Friday morning.  Mass killings were relatively few compared to the number of firearms in the country. Also, the Serbian president decided to review the conditions of possession of firearms in the country.

Stricter Supervision

The Serbian Government is seeking to reduce the possibility of such tragic events happening again. Indeed, the country's President Aleksandar Vucic has pledged to "disarm the country". The carrying of firearms will now be regulated by strict measures. From now on, permits to carry weapons will be limited and conditions of detention strengthened, medical and psychiatric control of persons authorized to carry weapons will also be closely observed. A two-year moratorium on gun and hunting licenses is also expected to come into effect.

The president even mentioned the possible use of the death penalty for the perpetrators of mass killings. However, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic refused, arguing that "they would probably be the only ones in Europe, with Belarus."

Edited by Sean Mulryan 

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