Updated May 5, 2023, 7:03am EDT

Serbia set to overhaul country’s gun laws after dual mass shootings

People react as they pay tribute following a school mass shooting, after a boy opened fire on others, killing fellow students and staff, in Belgrade, Serbia May 4, 2023. REUTERS/Zorana Jevtic
REUTERS/Zorana Jevtic

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The News

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic vowed to disarm his country after two mass shootings in the Balkan nation in one week, laying out plans to overhaul the country’s gun laws.

“We will do an almost complete disarming of Serbia,” Vucic said during a live broadcast on Friday. Hundreds of thousands of guns will be removed under the new measures, which include a ban on new gun permits, tighter penalties for illegal firearms possession, and psychological checks for gun owners.

Vucic is the latest world leader to respond to gun violence with stricter limitations on firearms, following similar moves by leaders in the U.K., New Zealand, Australia, and Norway.

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Know More

Vucic’s comments came after a gunman opened fire from a vehicle in a village near the Serbian capital of Belgrade late Thursday, killing at least eight people. Earlier this week, a 13-year-old boy fired into his classroom, killing eight children and a security guard. Serbia’s government announced additional checks on Thursday to ensure that gun owners were storing their weapons and ammunition correctly.

Gun ownership is common in Serbia but mass shootings are rare in the Balkan country, which already has strict gun laws. However, Serbia has a surplus of illegal firearms left over from wars in the 1990s.

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The View From New Zealand

Immediately after a 2019 mass shooting at two mosques in Christchurch, which killed 51 people, former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promised tighter gun restrictions.

New Zealand then enacted a ban on all military-style semi-automatic weapons, assault rifles, and high-capacity magazines. “We are announcing action today on behalf of all New Zealanders to strengthen our gun laws and make our country a safer place,” Ardern said at the time.

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The View From the U.K.

In 1996, a gunman entered a school in Dunblane, Scotland, killing 16 children and their teacher. Within a year, the U.K. government rolled out a ban on the private ownership of handguns and semi-automatic weapons.

Rates of gun violence in Britain are now among the lowest in the world.


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