NEWS

New database to be set up for weapon registration to help with police work

Changes to existing gun legislation are expected to impose both stricter regulations for acquiring a hunting rifle and tougher criteria for license applicants. They will also make a distinction between – and classify – tools and knives, in order to avoid loopholes in the existing law that put box-cutters in the same category as large-bladed knives. Ordinarily, hunters, fishermen and skinners are allowed to own knives, but there is no definition of the type of knife they are permitted. The result is that many hunters own military knives, yet no one knows whether this is even legal. Police are expected to be given the right to carry Mace. The Merchant Marine Ministry has already decided to allow port police to carry it. The Public Order Ministry is debating whether certain categories of people will be allowed to carry Mace for personal protection, if they are regarded as facing a higher risk of attack. The new law will categorize bows and arrows as weapons for which licenses must be issued. These are already banned for hunting purposes. Public Order Ministry officials say this provision will even cover bows sold as folk art by street vendors. Data bank Also in the new legislation is a provision for a data bank of all registered weapons. After the registration deadline has expired, all gun owners will be contacted by the police in order to test their weapons. In practice this means the owner will be asked to fire the weapon, and the bullet recorded in a data bank. In the event of a crime, shells collected at the scene will be cross-referenced with those in the data bank to see whether they were fired by a registered weapon. At the moment there is no such database in Greece, making it difficult to evaluate forensic evidence. Some crimes are committed with the use of registered weapons, and so investigations are delayed by the need for ballistic tests. A data bank will make police work easier and might even act as a deterrent to criminals. Collector’s items After a study of existing laws in other European countries on weapons kept as collector’s items, Greek legislators are opting for a middle-of-the-road approach. In Scandinavia, weapons destined for collections are split down the middle lengthwise and the collector mounts what is, in fact, half the gun. In Spain, however, collections contain complete weapons. The new Greek law will state that people who own guns that are family heirlooms will be able to keep them as they are, on the condition that they are never used. Collectors who buy guns, old or new, will have to obtain a certificate from the manufacturer to the effect that the gun is not in working order. According to ministry sources, there have been cases where people have been able to pay for such certificates, even though the gun was in perfect order. Manufacturers claimed that the owner repaired the gun himself. The new law therefore will determine precisely the process with which the gun will be deactivated so it will not be easily reversible. In addition, penalties for violating this law are to be made harsher.