Friday, January 22, 2016

Albania’s Gun Culture ‘Deadlier’ Than America’s

A greater percentage of violent deaths in Albania involved guns in 2013 than in the U.S., a cause of concern highlighted in its EU country progress report. 22 January 2016 Research carried out by a Washington-based institute reveals that 1.37 percent of all violent deaths in Albania in 2013 involved guns in Albania compared to 0.83 percent of deaths in the U.S.

According to the Institute for Health and Metrics and Evaluation, gun-related deaths have declined over the years in Albania – a country eager to join the European Union. A decade ago, 2.49 percent of violent deaths in Albania were as a result of firearms, the institute says.

In 2013, there were 5.86 gun-related killings for every 100,000 people, compared to 3.55 gun-related killings in the U.S, the research shows.

The chairman of the Albanian Committee of Nationwide Reconciliation (CNR) is quoted by The Independent as estimating that about 12,000 people died in Albania because of gun violence since 1991.

Gun warfare took off in Albania in the wake of the collapse of communism, creating a culture of “widespread irresponsibility” among gun owners, the CNR says.

Although numerous gun amnesties have been held in recent years, there are still at least 210,000 illegally held firearms in Albania, Politico reported.

While Albanians often compare their level of gun crime with America, Politco says, it is more meaningful to compare them with neighboring European countries – where guns are just as widespread but the number of crimes committed with them is much lower.

As Albania strives to join the EU, Brussels is less concerned about the gun crime statistics than the fact that they are a barometer for organized crime and corruption, Politico says.

Both feature prominently in the country’s annual EU progress reports, it says.

  • Gun culture in Albania is largely determined by the precepts of the Kanun law, a tradition that tolerates murder committed in blood feuds – especially when family honor is at stake.

  • Albania has around 270,000 legal and illicit guns held by civilians, according to estimates from the International Firearm Injury Prevention and Policy group.

  • Albania has a population of just under three million people, and there is one illegal firearm for every 13 citizens, Politco reports.

  • Many weapons were looted from army depots following the collapse of the Albanian government in 1997.

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