Drop your weapons: Serbia starts guns amnesty after two mass shootings shock nation

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Guns, bullets and bombs were handed over to Serbian police on Monday in an official amnesty declared a week after 17 people, including eight schoolchildren, died in mass shootings.

The Ministry of Interior reported that by the first afternoon of the month-long amnesty, 1500 weapons, 50,000 rounds of ammunition, and over 100 bombs had been handed in at police stations.

Under the rules of the amnesty, people surrendering weapons are not required to prove how they came by them, and they’re excused from prosecution if it is later shown they had been used in a criminal act.

When the official hand-in ends, the police say they’ll be much tougher on illegal or undocumented firearms ownership, with plans to increase jail terms for illegal carrying, possession or manufacturing of guns.

Jail terms

Head of the police department in Novi Sad, Nikola Petrovic, said: “When handing over these weapons, citizens should bring the weapons in an unloaded state, thus increasing their safety and the safety of the police officers who are to receive the weapons.“

State Secretary in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Zeljko Brkic, said: “I would like to take this opportunity to appeal to the citizens to freely bring to the police stations any type of weapon that is in their possession, not to throw them away, not to leave them in public space, thus increasing the level of social danger, because a weapon can again come into the possession of unauthorised persons.“

A collection service is also being operated by the police for anyone unable to drop weapons off themselves.

There have been mass protests in Serbia since the shootings, with some criticising the government’s handling of weapons regulation in a country with one of the world’s highest rates of gun ownership per capita.