According to Reuters, the national government of Iraq has changed the way it treats civilian firearms ownership in the war torn nation. After years of tight controls since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the government has realized the laws on selling and possession of firearms, which many Iraqis believe will decrease crime.
After the overthrow of Saddam, the government’s armories were looted by various militias, criminal gangs, and terrorist organizations. The law abiding public in Iraq was at the mercy of US led coalition forces and the Iraqi government. The government’s first reaction: restrict civilian ownership of guns.
But as reported by the NY Times back in 2006, in a country where law enforcement was virtually non-existent, the laws had little effect.
Khaliq did not have a permit to carry the AK-47 his militia had issued him. He also had many more than the authorized limit of 50 rounds. And he was well below the minimum age for carrying a gun, which is 25. “Let them try to take it from me,” said Khaliq, a muscular 17-year-old.
Now the Iraqi government has done one a one-eighty. Gone is the previous “good reputation and character” requirement for legal firearm ownership. Also gone is the requirement that firearms be used only for sport shooting and hunting.
Now personal defense is an allowable reason for to purchase and own a firearm and the country’s may-issue system has largely been scrapped.
Haider al-Suhail, a tribal sheikh from Baghdad, welcomed the legalization of gun stores.
“Yes, it will decrease crime,” he said on a visit to Maher’s shop to buy assault rifles for his ranch guards. “The criminal who plans to attack others will understand that he will pay heavy price.”
Iraqis realize that good guys with guns really do stop bad guys with guns.
“Customers are mainly men, but the number of women buyers is growing,” said Maher inside his shop, where a variety of pistols and rifles are on display. “The reason for buying is self-defence, and it’s safer for citizens to buy a weapon from an authorised store instead of from an unknown source.”
Under the new system, Iraq is now shall issue for both ownership and carry permits. Ownership of full autos is also legal. Iraqi citizens must meet the age requirements and pass a background check. Their permit card lists the actual firearms that they own and carry.
According to Mr. Maher, the price of pistols ranges between $1,000 to $4,000 and the common AK costs between $400 to $2,000 depending on the manufacturer and condition. From the photos, it looks like a lot of Turkish guns are being sold. Turkey borders Iraq and has a long trade history. Also CZ, HS2000 (XD Pistols), and Taurus appears to be selling well. Of course the AR-15 is also popular too.
So amazingly, common sense might be prevailing in some parts of the world. While sadly here in the US, some cities and states push for more restrictions. Perhaps our friends in California and New York can learn something from Iraq’s experience.