Indonesia: Challenge is to keep out illegal guns

INDONESIA - Money may be the only constraint when it comes to owning a gun in Indonesia - illegally.

To own it legally, strict prerequisites apply. One must be physically and mentally fit, not bad-tempered - based on a psychology test at the national police headquarters - and between age 21 and 65, with no criminal record.

Police will also evaluate the need for owning a gun before granting a permit. High-ranking civil servants and senior managers at private firms may be considered.

With such strict rules, one would easily be tempted to circumvent them altogether, and get an illegal one.

An unregistered 9mm Beretta 92 pistol would go for around 10 million rupiah (S$1,200), and a homemade pistol - assembled locally - would be less than half that price on the black market.

The penalty for illegal gun ownership in Indonesia is up to 20 years in jail. Illegal gun owners include drug dealers as well as rogue businessmen and lawyers.

Homemade guns in turn are often used by robbers or terrorists.

There are about 8,000 illegal guns in Jakarta alone and possibly more than double that across the country, according to an estimate by a non-profit organisation, Indonesia Police Watch.

In 2005, a ban on imported guns was introduced. Starting 2007, police also stopped giving or extending a permit for civilians who use a gun for sporting purposes and want to keep it at home.

Registered guns for sporting purposes may now be stored only at certain locations, including a registered shooting range and the secretariat of the Indonesia's shooting and hunting association.

But this excludes those with gun permits for protection.

The challenge in Indonesia is keeping out illegal guns, Colonel Agus Rianto, a national police spokesman, told The Straits Times.

"Indonesia has porous borders where entry points are indeed not only the official seaports, airports, and land border gates," Col Agus said.

wahyudis@sph.com.sg


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