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News > Colombia

Colombia: Controversy Over Bill To Allow Mass Carrying of Arms

  • Legalizing the mass carrying of firearms in Colombia is Senator María Fernanda Cabal's proposal to fight insecurity.

    Legalizing the mass carrying of firearms in Colombia is Senator María Fernanda Cabal's proposal to fight insecurity. | Photo: @RevistaSemana

Published 17 March 2021 (22 hours 59 minutes ago)
Opinion

Political leaders of the Democratic Center (CD), the front founded by former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe Vélez, presented this Tuesday in the Colombian Congress a bill to allow the mass carrying of weapons by the population as a possible self-defense mechanism.

Specifically, the initiative proposes eliminating the category of special carrying of weapons established under Juan Manuel Santos's government, limiting its exclusive use to people who meet specific requirements. Senator María Fernanda Cabal, one of the legislators promoting the new proposal, stated that this restriction "reduced the possibilities of personal protection for thousands of Colombians."

Upon announcing the news, through a video in her social networks, this legislator said: "Every year, Colombians feel more insecure." She asked: "Why is the life of a criminal worth more than that of a good citizen?

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Cabal also stated that 99% of the homicides produced in the Latin American nation occur with illegal weapons. "Whoever commits a crime knows that he is not doing so with a legal weapon and that the other is unprotected. The problem is not the weapons themselves, but who uses them," she said.

Christian Garcés, another of the representatives pushing for the extension of authorizations to possess armament, affirms that from the almost 400,000 licenses that existed in 2016, the number was reduced to 6,000.

"Meanwhile, more than 2.5 million illegal weapons circulate and are used in the vast majority of crimes," he stressed.

Likewise, Garcés clarified that "the intention is not to arm all Colombians, but to strengthen the State's monopoly on weapons, encouraging the registration of weapons." In case of being sanctioned, it would be applied "with a process of requirements and clear times for the authorities to issue possession and carrying permits to citizens who choose to protect themselves with a short-range weapon."

Regarding the chances of approval, the CD currently has 18 seats out of the 108 total in the upper house, and it remains to be seen if there is consensus with other fronts. In the House of Representatives, Uribism has 32 of the 172 seats, being the political force with the highest amount legislators in both Congress chambers.

Shortly after the bill's presentation, social networks were full of repudiations against the proposal, considering it as a dangerous alternative to face the insecurity in the country.

"Legislators seek to regulate the carrying of weapons in Colombia through a bill—an initiative led by Senator María Fernanda Cabal and Representative Christian Garcés—which was filed in Congress."

Youtuber Daniel Samper Ospina questioned the idea of "arming good citizens," stating that "good citizens are good because they are not armed." With that tone, he pointed out that this kind of initiative gave rise to paramilitaries, the groups parallel to State forces that directly confronted the guerrillas starting during the Uribism period.

"One returns to Congress and finds María Fernanda Cabal filing a bill for Colombians to arm themselves," wrote social leader César Pachón. "Could it be that one has to learn to 'coexist' with these people?" the leader added.

Other cybernauts, with irony, questioned the responsibility of citizens to use this kind of instrument.

Likewise, some users joked about the concept of "weapons for good people" and made memes with Senator Cabal's face.

In turn, Johana Fuentes, deputy general editor at W Radio, criticized the apparent "double standard" of the other congressman, making a comparison with his position on personal drug use: "According to Christian Garcés, promoter of gun carrying, a person smoking marijuana in a park is more dangerous than a person carrying a gun."

Beyond the high levels of insecurity in Colombia, the National Police alleges that the homicide rate is decreasing in recent years. In fact, in 2020, there were 12,019 violent deaths, which represents 635 less than the previous year.

The most recent New Year's celebration saw the lowest rate in the last 17 years: 41 homicides, 42% less than at the beginning of 2020 when 71 violent deaths occurred.

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