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3 February 2005
BRUSSELS – Belgium’s justice minister has pledged to implement a tough new law on the possession of guns.
Laurette Onkelinx told the federal parliament she intends to propose new rules to ensure no one in Belgium owns a gun without a licence.
"Permission will only be given if there’s a legitimate motive," Onkelinx told MPs.
She said at the moment there were 641,781 personal guns owned in Belgium and 27,492 military guns, an official total of 669,273 guns.
But those figures don’t take into account a huge number of guns which have not been registered, including a large number of hunting weapons.
Experts say that in reality Belgium has around 2 million guns in circulation.
Some parties such as the Flemish left-wing liberals Spirit want to see a total ban on the possession of guns in homes, arguing that 367 people a year on average die from gunshot wounds here.
Some of the deaths are suicides while others are victims of shootings.
On the other side, the Flemish Christian Democrats (CD&V) and the Flemish right-leaning Liberal VLD party want to see a liberalisation of Belgium’s gun laws.
They want to give citizens the right to use guns to protect their property.
Under Belgium’s current legislation, a person can shoot someone to protect themselves or another person from an attack or an imminent attack, though the defence must be appropriate to the attack.
[Copyright Expatica 2005]
Subject: Belgian news
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