Saudi has just introduced new laws allowing private companies to sell firearms. Is the kingdom arming itself?
October 18, 2009 4:14 by Aarti Nagraj
The Saudi Interior Ministry has said that it will grant licenses to privately owned gun shops in the country, a first in the kingdom, reports Arab News. People over the age of 25, who have a “clean criminal record and a bank guarantee of SR500,000 ($133,330)” can apply to open a gun store, the ministry said. An official told the paper that the aim is to reduce the widespread illegal ownership of handguns and assault weapons. Currently, licensed guns used for hunting and sports shooting sold in specialist stores across the country.
Saudi has revised its firearms laws numerous times over the past few years.
According to the bill for arms and ammunition passed by the kingdom in 2007, marksmanship clubs can be established by Saudi citizens over 25 years of age, who have no security or criminal convictions and no record of mental illness, said a report in Saudi paper Asharq Al-Awsat. However, the clubs can only start functioning after becoming members of the Arab Saudi Marksmanship Federation.
The bill also said that the clubs had to be situated far from “any significant buildings, residential areas, schools, hospitals, social probation centers, public markets and petrol stations.” Each club needed to have two stockrooms, surveillance systems and electric gates for metal detection at the entrance.
According to the bill, boys aged 12 years and above can use the club as long as a guardian is present.