Serbians Surrender 13,500 Weapons Following Mass Shootings

Two weeks after a 13-year-old boy opened fire in his school in the Serbian capital which killed 8 children and 1 security guard, and a day later another mass shooting in Mladenovac, a town near Belgrade which killed 8 in a drive-by attack, Serbians surrendered all weapons.

  • Serbia has recently faced 2 mass shootings resulting in 17 deaths.
  • The president issued a one-month amnesty for the citizens to surrender any and all unregistered weapons.
  • Some 13,500 weapons including guns, hand grenades, and rocket launchers have been recovered so far.
  • New gun control and gun storage guidelines have been issued

The surrendered weapons numbered ~13,500, which included automatic weapons, rifles, pistols, hand grenades, and even anti-tank rocket launchers. The Populist government of Aleksandar Vucic declared a 1 month amnesty period on May 8th for the citizens to surrender unregistered weapons. All surrendered weapons were displayed near the town of Smederevo some 50km south of the capital.

Serbia has gotten these weapons from the battlefields of the 1990s. Approximately half of these weapons were unregistered and/or illegally obtained, while the other half were entirely legal yet people decided to give them up. These surrendered weapons will be given to the arms and ammunition factories for potential future use by the Serbian army.

Anyone who is caught still carrying illegal weapons after the one-month amnesty period will be arrested and face a prison sentence of up to 15 years. “What does anyone need an automatic weapon for? Or all these guns?” said President Vucic. Serbia is estimated to have one of the most civilian guns per capita, with an estimated total of 2.7 million guns for a population of 6.9 million as of 2017. 

People hold banners with writing reading “Serbia against violence” during a march against violence in Belgrade, Serbia, on Friday, May 12, 2023. (Photo by Darko Vojinovic/AP)

The amnesty came after a 13-year-old boy used his father’s gun to shoot his fellow students at an elementary school in the capital. Just a day later, a 20-year-old man used an automatic weapon to shoot at people randomly in a rural town south of the capital. 17 people have been killed and injured another 21.

Vucic has also announced stricter control of shooting ranges and gun owners. Gun owners must keep their registered guns in a coded safe. Officials plan to inspect all registered addresses to check whether these guidelines are followed, and any gun not stored in this way will be confiscated and the gun owner punished.

Past attempts at gun control resulted in unregistered guns being discarded in the trash or any place other than in the hands of police officials. The recent shootings have made the citizens of Serbia aware of what effects their guns, even the registered ones, can have on their fellow citizens. 

The mass shootings seem to have united the nation against guns and similar weapons. Serbia is a country that has suffered through many wars in the 1990s, wars where criminals were deemed heroes, where violence was openly portrayed in media, and where every other house had at least one gun. The people of Serbia have given up a part of their national identity to prevent the deaths of their fellow people. 

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