Colombia loosens gun control amid wave of criticism

(Image: Augustas Didžgalvis) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

President Ivan Duque loosened Colombia’s gun ban on Wednesday hours after his political patron, former President Alvaro Uribe, announced civilians could carry firearms if permitted by the military.

The request to loosen the gun ban  highly controversial; armed self-defense groups that were briefly legalized in the 1990s ended up committing tens of thousands of murders in just a decade.

One of the main promoters of the loosening of the gun ban, former President Alvaro Uribe, signed off on at least 70 of these groups when he was governor of the Antioquia province.

Uribe, his hard-right Democratic Center party and the Conservative Party asked the president to loosen the gun ban so that “Colombians who are exposed to constant risk do not only count on improved guarantees to defend themselves against crime and aggression, but also the tools of protection.”

The former president released the text of the draft decree on Christmas Day, 40 hours before Duque published the final text.

Paragraph 2 of article 1

Far-right senate president Ernesto Macias said on Twitter that “there will be special permissions for citizens who need one and comply with the requisites.”

Duque signed the decree that was adapted by his political patron and maintained the state’s formal monopoly of violence.

Both centrist and leftist political forces had called the proposal “dangerous” and stressed that the country is in the middle of a peace process.

“We don’t understand how we sign peace and the response is to allow Colombians have their own gun,” the Liberal Party wrote in a statement. “Colombians shouldn’t be armed, they should be given justice, equity, security, education, equality and progress,” according to the party.

Senator Angelica Lozano of the Green Party said that “there is abundant evidence” indicating that arming civilians leads to increased “risk, accidents, homicides, stray bullets, fights that end up in mourning, and children with lethal toys.”

Lozano urged Duque to maintain “weapons in the hands of the military and the police,” but in vain.

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