Rising Firearms Ownership and Security Concerns in Belgium: Exploring the Impacts and Solutions

2023-10-20 04:39:00

The security climate in Belgium is such that more and more individuals are investing in a firearm to defend themselves in the event of attack. A phenomenon already observed in certain tense neighborhoods of Brussels such as at the Gare du Nord or in the Cureghem district where a popular militia has emerged to compensate for the lack of police presence.

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But according to criminologist Michaël Dantinne, this increase in the number of legal detentions can have the opposite effect sought, by contributing to an increase in the number of weapons that end up on the black market. “The proliferation of illegal weapons observed in Belgium is linked to the increase in the number of legal weapons in circulation in the country. It is obvious that the more legal weapons we have, the more there will be those that will be stolen or hidden, which will no longer be in order, and which will end up in circulation,” he analyzes.

Thus, as of August 29, 2023, 804,896 weapons were encoded in the central arms register (RCA) for individuals, hunters, sports shooters, legal entities or approved collectors. This figure does not concern the weapons of the authority services. This is significantly more than five years ago, when 781,419 weapons were coded in Belgium.

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According to the latest data, “164,884 individuals own firearms and 1,101 legal entities,” observes the spokesperson for the federal police. “This count also includes the authority services (federal police departments, local police, customs, regional water and forest services, etc.).”

On the other hand, it is also possible to voluntarily abandon a weapon at a police station. This process is completely free and assures owners of undeclared weapons that they will not be prosecuted. Also as of August 29, 2023, the RCA counted 1,798 voluntary abandonments of weapons in police stations in Belgium for the year 2023, compared to 2,885 for the whole of 2022.

It should be noted that the validation of legal weapons is the responsibility of provincial governors who, since the sixth state reform, have been responsible for signing all authorizations for embassies, consulates and individuals who wish to possess a weapon.

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