Individual Disarmament

International Symposium, 18 – 19 January 2002
Istanbul Dedeman Hotel

1. Edition

250 Page

Based on the issues raised in the International Individual Disarmament Symposium, held at the Istanbul Dedeman Hotel on 18th and 19th January 2002, the Umut Foundation published the book “Individual Disarmament”.

The book includes chapters on Why Individual Disarmament, Weapons and the Law, Health or Weapons for a Safe Life, and International Approaches, as well as workshop studies conducted during the Symposium.

The book is one of the very few Turkish publications on the subject of individual disarmament. The most notable feature of the book is the way in which it provides a comprehensive overview of the subject of individual disarmament from widely differing perspectives and disciplines, including various arguments and practical efforts.

If you are curious about experts’ evaluations on the subject, striking statistics and international approaches, we highly recommend you get this book.

“Individual Disarmament” may be obtained from the Umut Foundation. 


International Symposium, 18 – 19 January 2002
Istanbul Dedeman Hotel

Founding Chairwoman
The Umut Foundation for the Education of Honourable Leaders
(Umut Onurlu Önderler Yetiştirme Vakfı)

We decided to establish the Umut Foundation in 1993, with the following aims:

  • To nurture our young people, the guarantee of the future, as people who will contribute to the development of our country and benefit humanity, through developing their leadership and capabilities as followers of the example of Atatürk
  • To encourage people to play their part in taking up and implementing the concept of the supremacy of the Rule of Law
  • To cause people to prefer the option of peaceful ways of resolving differences, setting out on Atatürk’s understanding as expressed in his words “Peace at Home, Peace in the World”
  • In this framework, to teach individuals, and cause them to own, their capacity for reconciliation (and the continuation and development of peaceful ways)

Our aims were right and we had to succeed. As time passed, we noticed that the Umut Foundation remained the only NGO active on the subject of Individual Disarmament in Turkey. In spite of being victims of firearms, people were not aware of the concept of ‘individual disarmament’. Moreover we observed that there was no individual disarmament terminology. The necessary interest in this fatal social problem was not being shown either by the state or by the general public. The noise of gunfire was not being silenced, the tears of the bereaved continues to fall silently.. Yet could there be any more grievous situation than society arming itself against one another, in spite of its own security forces? Although it is incompatible with contemporary civilized life, the acquisition of individual weapons continues apace. Personal gun ownership is reflected in the deaths of 3,000 people every year through murder, accidents and suicides involving firearms.

Our prime objective was to cooperate with organizations sharing the same mission as the Umut Foundation. At that time, unfortunately we could not find any other organization solely concerned with individual disarmament. Thus the Umut Foundation took the lead in the Istanbul Bar Association’s decision of 17th December 1998, to establish the Istanbul Bar Individual Disarmament Commission to examine legal dimensions against the individual firearms ownership that is such a major cause of the violence and anarchy existing in our society, and to develop recommendations with regard to the structure of the law.

Thus, the 1st International Individual Disarmament Symposium came to life in cooperation with the Individual Disarmament Commission, based on a consciousness of our responsibilities, and supporting our belief that a society that feels secure will not use firearms.

The aim was to investigate individual armament from legal, educational, physical and mental health aspects, and determine proposals for solutions through various disciplines. We were able to benefit from almost everyone involved in research into the social problems of individual armament, and to host theorists from abroad and take advantage of their fruitful ideas.

The greatest aspect of the Symposium was that it provided a forum for the sharing of the ideas and research over a wide range of disciplines, including criminal lawyers, psychologists and psychiatrists, public health and other medical experts, students of the police academy, security officials and representatives of NGO’s and the media, over two days of intense activity.

Indeed, the 18th and 19th January 2002 was the first time that all aspects of the issue of Individual Disarmament had been discussed in an international forum in Turkey. The recommendations of the working groups were valuable for being so realistic and pragmatic. This was the first time that subjects as striking as addiction to firearms, the implementation of the age limit for gun licensing, medical experts’ responsibilities in gun licensing, toy guns, records of income to the security department from licensing fees, procedures for surrendering of guns, obligatory pre-licence waiting period, films showing armed violence, the social and personal insecurity generated through firearms, and media ethics on armed violence, had been discussed in such detail and amongst differing disciplines.

The arming of our compatriots, one against the other, must be ended. The only result of individual armament is death and misery for thousands of people. Guns acquired in the name of security in reality mean the murder of an acquaintance or relative. In fact, we need to believe in individual disarmament as a requirement of the rule of law and the supremacy of law. Individual armament is a problem not just of individual citizens, or of governments, but of society as a whole. We have created this problem together over a long period of time. Now we must solve it together. Laws must be changed, judgments and implementations must be reviewed, and our compatriots must be made aware of their right to live in harmony and respect for each other. What remains is for official bodies to take measures such as more serious limitations, tighter controls and prohibitions. Instead of the victory of individuals, the joy of conciliation will be achieved through somewhat deterrent laws.

The Umut Foundation has taken the opportunity to publish this Individual Disarmament book in order to provide a source for all those working on this subject, and thus to contribute to a solution to this social problem. Our heartfelt gratitude goes out to all those who enriched this fruitful cooperation between the Open Society Institute, Umut Foundation and the Istanbul Bar Association Individual Disarmament Commission and supported our mission - as speakers, participants or observers.

With our wishes for an end to the heartbreak and destruction, and for a future full of hope.



International Symposium, 18 – 19 January 2002
Istanbul Dedeman Hotel





Prof. Dr. Mehmet R. Gürkaynak
Umut Foundation Founding Trustee and Deputy Chairman

Attorney Rebecca Peters
Open Society Institute / Senior Researcher and journalist

Ass. Prof. Attorney Yücel Sayman 
Chairman of the Istanbul Bar and Lecturer at Istanbul University Law Faculty




FIRST SESSION / Why Individual Disarmament?

Chair:         Prof. Dr. İbrahim Balcıoğlu
                   Lecturer, Istanbul University


Dr. Ayhan Akcan
Expert in Mental Health and Diseases, Founder and Coordinator of Bakırköy Psychiatric Treatment and Research Centre

Doç. Dr. Armağan Y. Samancı
Psychiatrist and Deputy Chief, Bakırköy Nervous Diseases Training and Research Hospital

Prof. Dr. Özcan Köknel
Retired Lecturer, Istanbul University

Dr. Gülçin Demir
Forensic Psychologist, Divisional Chief of the Ministry of Justice’s General Directorate of Sentencing and Correctional Institutions Unit

SECOND SESSION/ Weapons and the Law

Chair:         Prof. Dr. Füsun Sokullu Akıncı
                  Lecturer in Criminal Law, Istanbul University Law Faculty


Prof. Dr. Timur Demirbaş
Lecturer at Dokuz Eylül University Law Faculty

Ass. Prof. Mustafa R. Erdem
Lecturer at Dokuz Eylül University Law Faculty and Deputy Head of the School of Higher Education in Justice

Police Commissioner Tuncay Pekin
Chief of the Public Security Dept. Firearms Bureau, General Directorate of Security

Prof. Dr. Bahri Öztürk
Head of the Dokuz Eylül University Law Faculty Dept. of Criminal Law


THIRD SESSION/ Health, or Weapons, for a Safe Life?

Chair:         Prof. Dr. K. Güler Gürsu
                   Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon


Ass. Prof. Dr. Hilal Özcebe
 Lecturer, Hacettepe University Medical Faculty, Dept. Of Public Health

Prof. Dr. İskender Sayek
Dean of Hacettepe University Medical Faculty

Prof. Dr. Oğuz Polat
Chairman of the Forensic Medicine Board of the Ministry of Justice


FOURTH SESSION / International Approaches

Chair:         Attorney Rebecca Peters
                    Open Society Institute / Senior Researcher and journalist


Philip Alpers
Senior Researcher, Harvard University Injury Control Research Center

Dr. Antoine Chapdelaine
Public Health Expert

Adele Kirsten
Head of Gun Free South Africa and IANSA Committee Member

Antonio Rangel Bandeira
Political Scientist and journalist

Dr. Mick North 
Retired Academician and Founder Member of UK’s Gun Control Network



 Working Groups – Discussions - Proposals

WORKING GROUP 1 / Are there Statistics and Standards: should there be?

Moderator:     Prof. Dr. K. Güler Gürsu
                    Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon

WORKING GROUP 2 / To what extent are, or should, psychiatric examination and doctors be involved in the process of gun licensing?

Moderator:         Dr. Ayhan Akcan
                       Expert in Mental Health and Diseases, Founder and Coordinator of Bakırköy Psychiatric Treatment and Research Centre

WORKING GROUP 3 / Individual Arms Ownership – Laws and Procedures For and Against

Moderator:         Prof. Dr. Timur Demirbaş
                       Lecturer at Dokuz Eylül University Law Faculty

WORKING GROUP 4 / Media and Education – Who is Responsible?

·         Moderator:         Mithat Bereket
                      Foreign News Coordinator of NTV News Channel, Producer and Presenter of “Pusula” Current Affairs Programme


·         This working group’s proceedings were not recorded, by joint decision of the participants



Assembly – Working Group Reports

Chair:         Mithat Bereket
                   Foreign News Coordinator of NTV News Channel, Producer and Presenter of “Pusula” Current Affairs Programme


Reporting of Results


Speakers’ Biographies