Istanbul Dedeman Hotel
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
We decided to establish the Umut Foundation in 1993, with the following aims:
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.