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Belgium leads Western Europe in gun-related homicides
More than 11% of families in Belgium possess a firearm, one of the highest numbers in Western Europe, reports Knack.be. This can have dramatic consequences, according to a new report published yesterday by the Flemish Peace Institute, which concludes that "countries with more firearms have more firearm deaths".
Every year, about 6,700 people are killed with a firearm in the European Union, with suicide accounting for 5,000 of these deaths. The European Commission had previously announced that a lack of reliable statistics and information on firearms in the EU presented a stumbling block for effective policies and concrete measures. The Flemish Peace Institute therefore published its most recent report, Firearms and Violent Deaths in Europe.
The study is “groundbreaking”, according to author and researcher Nils Duquet of the Flemish Peace Institute. "It's the first time that someone examines - in a European context - the link between gun ownership, firearms legislation and violent deaths." And the conclusion is clear. "In countries with more firearms, we usually find more firearm deaths. That link is strongest for suicides by firearm, and to a lesser extent for firearm murders," says Duquet.
After the Eastern and Central European countries and Italy, Belgium is the western European country with the highest number of firearm deaths. "Belgium is an unusual country when it comes to firearms," says Dulquet. “First and foremost, it is a country with a long history of arms production. Also, Belgium is the only country in the world where the regions (and not the federal government) are responsible for the import and export of firearms."
“Belgium had a mild Firearms Act in the past,” Duquet adds. “It was only tightened up in 2006, in order to meet European standards. The large number of deaths by firearm therefore partly has to do with legislation.”