Slow Disarmament? More than 20,000 Deaths by Firearms in 15 Years / Import of Firearms rise despite Ban
Attorney General Francisco Domínguez Brito warned the judges not to be so generous in the prosecution of people carrying an illegal weapon. “Every time we release someone who has been arrested for illegal possession of arms, we set someone free who possibly then goes to rob or kill,” warned Domínguez Brito. Anyone who is caught with an illegal weapon should be behind bars. “A gun is not to plant a flower or to perform an act of love or tenderness. People have a firearm to kill. No one can be caught on the streets at night on a motorcycle with an illegal firearm and afterwards set free,”, Domínguez Brito said. There should be no tolerance to firearms any more. Neither here nor anywhere else in the world. The massacre of Orlando showed the danger of everybody being armed.
This demand of the Public Prosecutor immediately provoked the opposition of the expert in criminal law, Cándido Simón, who said this requirement is contrary to the Constitution. Since 2010, the rule of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights applies, after which freedom is the rule and detention is the exception. According to Act 36, illegal gun ownership has only light penalties. So the owner in the normal case has to be released, if he has not committed any other offenses in the context. The law number 36 on gun ownership is 51 years old and dates from the time of the revolution of 1965. It is a law which provides for very light sentences and was thought that the well-armed population voluntarily gives up its weapons. What it never did. Wearing illegal weapons leads only to a mild punishment: one month to two years in prison and fines of between ten and 3,000 pesos. According to the International Panel GunPolicy.org, 878 guns, 55,360 rifles and 165,315 small arms are in the hands of Dominican civilians. There are a further 300,000 illegal firearms. Every 50th Dominican carries a legal firearm. In the past 15 years, there were killed 20,455 people by firearms in the Dominican Republic. Many of these murders took place because criminals killed gun owners to get their firearm. So in reality it is dangerous to own a firearm, because it attracts criminals who want to get it. In the global peace ranking, the Dominican Republic is ranked only 99th.
Although President Leonel Fernández decided a ban on import of weapons in 2006, the country imported weapons and ammunition with a value of 40.3 million dollars in the past seven years. 2013 was a record year at 7.8 million, of which 5.3 million went to Brazil, which is the second largest arms supplier after the United States in the long-term average, followed by Russia and China. The draft law for the control and regulation of firearms, which was adopted in two readings of the Chamber of Deputies, provides that the Ministry of Interior and Police (MIP) has to create a mechanism to manage to collect the weapons of the civilian population. Also people who deliver an illegal weapon voluntarily should go unpunished. People who carry a weapon in public, legal or illegal, are to be punished, places that allow to bear arms openly, will be closed temporarily or permanently.