HomeMiddle EastIraqIraq Launches Initiative to Centralize Weapons Amid Rising Concerns Over Gun Violence

Iraq Launches Initiative to Centralize Weapons Amid Rising Concerns Over Gun Violence

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In response to mounting concerns over gun violence and the proliferation of firearms, the Iraqi Ministry of Interior has announced the implementation of a new initiative aimed at centralizing weapons in state hands. 

 

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The program, titled “Centralizing Weapons in State Hands,” seeks to purchase medium-range weapons from the public, with 697 registration offices established across Baghdad and other provinces.

 

According to Iraqi News, the initiative follows the disclosure of a substantial budget by the Ministry, amounting to over $763,000 (one billion Iraqi dinars) per governorate, to facilitate the purchase of privately held arms. 

 

Brigadier General Mansour Ali Sultan, the committee secretary responsible for weapons control, revealed that 70 percent of a database tracking privately owned arms is now complete. 

 

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He emphasized that Iraqi law permits citizens aged 25 or above to own weapons but stressed the importance of preventing illegal arms trade.

 

In a move towards modernization, the Ministry has also launched an electronic application for registering firearms, signaling a concerted effort to regulate the possession and sale of weapons more effectively. 

 

Furthermore, the closure of 420 unlicensed firearm shops and the identification of 320 websites within Iraq selling weapons highlight the government’s commitment to cracking down on illicit arms trafficking.

 

However, the initiative comes against a backdrop of concerning statistics regarding gun violence in Iraq. A 2019 study by the University of Washington revealed that Iraq had the highest rate of violent gun deaths per capita in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, surpassing even the United States. 

 

With estimates suggesting that Iraqi citizens have access to between 7.6 and 15 million firearms throughout the country, the need for effective weapons control measures is more pressing than ever.

 

As the Ministry prepares to roll out the program in March, concerns have been raised about the types of weapons in circulation. Shafaq News reports that AK-47 rifles, PKC rifles, Russian RPGs, mortar launchers, and RPG shells are among the most prominent firearms in proliferation, with recent increases in their use observed in tribal conflicts in the south and central regions of Iraq.

 

The prevalence of armed groups and tribes possessing such weapons underscores the complex security challenges facing the country. 

 

Furthermore, the post-2003 cultural inclination among Iraqis to keep weapons in their homes as a means of self-defense against thieves and anticipated assaults adds another layer of complexity to the issue.

 

While the “Centralizing Weapons in State Hands” initiative represents a step towards addressing the issue of gun violence and illicit arms trafficking, its success will depend on the effective implementation and enforcement of regulations. 

 

With Iraq facing numerous security threats and challenges, including insurgency, terrorism, and inter-tribal conflicts, ensuring responsible weapons ownership and preventing their misuse is paramount for the country’s stability and security moving forward.

 

This article was created using automation and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our staff editorial members

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