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Legal Right To Acquire Arms: Pros And Cons

The problem of whether to allow citizens to acquire firearms for self-defense is widely discussed in both foreign and local newspapers. In accordance with a marketing research, 5% of European male population shows a great interest in acquiring arms. It makes up about 17 million people of the total number of the European population (about 608 million people).

American, Swiss, French and Finnish societies are traditionally regarded as the most armed ones in the world. Sweden and Norway are not on the list, though the level of saturation with weapons in these countries is extremely high. In Sweden illegal firearms can be easily purchased on the black market. From 40 up to 50 units of firearms are imported to the country illegally.

According to the Moldovan Minister of Internal Affairs, from the beginning of the year 2002 the police have confiscated 90 illegally kept firearms and about 12.000 rounds of ammunition. Irrespective of the innumerable appeals made by the civil justice troops to inform police forces of illegal arms, the dominant majority of our citizens disdained this order. It is hard to produce any figures of already officially announced weapons kept without license. During the last 5 months, our law-abiding citizens have made official statements of about 3.000 rifles.

Undoubtedly, the daunting amount of firearms was left after the 1992 armed conflict in Transnistria. The Russian Federation is also a source of distribution of firearms. At the same time, imported arms are not necessarily stolen. There are specialists in Moldova who can make them masterfully. Such arms cost $1200-$1500. For example, a new Makarov pistol is sold at a price of $700-$800.

Under the Moldovan law once an illegally kept weapon is detected, it is confiscated and a criminal case follows. Those detained for illegal possession will be prosecuted and imprisoned for no less than 7 years.

Can legal possession of firearms cause violence? This question is often asked by the opponents of legalization of arms. However, statistics shows the opposite effect. For example, in Great Britain the total number of armed crimes increased by 40% in 2001, in spite of the fact that a law-abiding citizen is prohibited from bearing even a penknife in his pocket.

In Germany the 1928 Law was the first restrictive document on arms. According to the Law firearms and ammunition could be released for sale provided that a special license was available. Then there were from 1 to 2 million illegally kept units of firearms in Germany. In 73 years there were already 10 million legally kept units and 20 million illegally kept ones. Another fact worth paying attention to is that about 80% of murders committed in that country in 2001 were not the result of the use of firearms.

For decades the citizens of the United States have been derogated from their right to possess firearms. By the year 1987, only in Vermont it was allowed to bear arms without an official authorization. In Indiana, Maine, New Hampshire, North and South Dakota, and Washington the police gave an official permit to bear arms to the citizens that met a number of standard requirements.

In 1987, Florida authorities had to act in response to an unprecedented wave of crime and adopted a legislative act according to which every citizen without previous convictions was entitled to bear arms. As a result, the total number of murders reduced by 22% whereas that with the use of firearms by 29%. Between 1993 and 1996, similar laws were enforced in 28 American states with the total population of 115 million people.

Under the law of the state of Virginia every citizen older than 21 and without previous convictions can get an official permit to bear arms with no difficulty. Virginia authorities are guided by considerations that if society is unable to protect an individual, it must grant him the right to self-defense. The procedure of acquiring arms in Virginia can be taken as a model by other American states. The term of the issue of a permit is 90 days, validity period is 2 years, the cost of a license is $50.

Today the FBI statistics indicates that in the past 5 years there has been a great decline in the total number of murders and heavy personal injures in the states that liberalized the right to bear arms. Furthermore, the number of crimes with the use of firearms has dropped by 38%.

This article is not in favor of any of the two positions. But statistical research recently conducted in the United States showed that about 150 thousand people die annually because of doctor’s error, and only about 30 thousand people die in the accidents related to the use of firearms…

Prepared by Vlada Popushoi

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