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32,000 heavy weapons registered in Belgium
A total of 32,425 heavy weapons have been officially registered in Belgium in the central arms register, as required by law, Le Soir reports today. The figure is based on a parliamentary question by MP Stefaan Van Hecke to justice minister Annemie Turtelboom. The Weapons Act states that so-called defence and war weapons must be officially registered with the authorities and that their owner must meet several criteria: to be over 18, to have no criminal record, to have a valid reason to own such a weapon and to have submitted a doctor’s certificate and the written consent of their legal cohabitants. There are currently 2,851 submachine guns, 1,619 light automatic rifles and 27,925 assault rifles listed in the register. These weapons are used for hunting, wildlife management activities, recreational target shooting or “the exercise of a profession with special risks” or “self-defence”. The figures are cause for concern according to the green party Ecolo, which calls these weapons “completely useless” and “a danger to society”.