Most of the weapons and ammunition that was taken by the Albanian population during the turmoil of 1997 remains at large, despite three amnesties announced by the government over the last 22 years.
According to sources, the government has announced that all weapons need to be surrendered by 2024, although no one seems quite sure just how this will be achieved. It is hoped that this strategy will be a success as fire weapons and military ammunition in the hands of members of the public continues to be a very real threat to public safety.
Sources said that a research from 2016 noted that the rate of gun related deaths in Albania was 1.37 percent of all violent fatalities, against 0.83 percent in the United States. More than 12,000 people have died at the hands of guns since 1991.
The number of weapons that has been handed in so far has been wholly insignificant, showing that a large number are still in the possession of members of the public.
In 1997, a total of 839.3 million ammunition units were taken from the army depots along with 16 million explosives and 549,775 firearms. However, only 40% of the total amount has been returned so far, as a part of the governments attempted amnesties.
Earlier this year, a scandal unraveled; a large number of weapons and ammunition had been stolen from the Pashaliman military base near Vlora. According to the official report, a number of automatic combat weapons, grenades, cartridges, combat rifles, and various other paraphernalia were lifted from the base, with many believing it was an inside job.
Albania has been implicated as the center of a Balkan-wide weapons trafficking network with firearms entering the country from Macedonia, Kosovo, and Montenegro.
“A part of the weapons that are smuggled in are manufactured in European countries (pistols). Another part of firearms along with explosives come from Montenegro, while traffickers from Kosovo and Macedonia are mainly responsible for smuggling converted firearms” – experts were quoted by the sources.