Sweden to offer gun amnesty

For six months next year anyone with a gun and a guilty conscience will be able to dispose of their weapons without needing to answer any tricky questions. Sweden's justice department is currently putting the finishing touches to a weapons amnesty scheme expected to come into force in March 2007.

Criminals, or anybody else in possession of illegal weapons, will be able to hand them over to the police without risking punishment.

“It is important that the police are prepared because taking care of these weapons in the appropriate manner is a major undertaking,” justice minister Beatrice Ask told Svenska Dagbladet.

The former government did much of the preparatory work for the scheme, having received a request from parliament last year to put in place a temporary amnesty.

When a similar weapons amnesty was introduced for a three-month period in 1993 the police received 17,000 firearms.

Police were satisfied with the solution as it meant that people who did not have licences for their weapons could hand them over with answering difficult questions or facing legal repercussions.

During the 1993 amnesty police received over 10,000 rifles and almost 7,000 pistols and revolvers as well as 54 semi-automatic weapons.

According to police, most of the weapons handed over were old firearms left lying about in wardrobes and attics. Only a small proportion of the weapons had been used in a criminal context.