The Problem Of Individual Arming In Turkey: Solution Proposals Search Conference Conclusion Statement & Working Group Reports


September 28 the World Individual Disarming Day
“The Problem of Individual Arming in Turkey: Solution Proposals” Search Conference


In the Search Conference, “The Problem of Individual Arming in Turkey: Solution Proposals”, held in cooperation of Umut Foundation and Istanbul Governor’s Office, on September 24th 2005, Social Situation, The Media, Legal, and Security working groups evaluated the problem of individual arming from different perspective and decided to declare the following opinions and proposals to the public:

Our culture has some elements that create a tendency toward violence and arming and render violence as a ‘normal’ phenomenon. The absence of open communication customs, the lack of trust in the actors responsible for providing and maintaining individual and social security, the disproportionate use of force by the security forces, the tendency of those responsible for constructing a culture of peace to be violent consolidate the problem.

To prevent arming and the analysis of the problematic fields, we should rapidly develop and implement educational models that are based on comprehensive researches on the underlying cultural elements and reasons of arming; create behavioural and linguistic changes on all the sections of society; aim at non-violent conflict resolution methods, human rights, and a culture of peace.

We believe that unless the problem of arming is adopted as a common problem by all the sections of society, producing a final solution is impossible. Therefore we should organize loud and widespread campaigns that make the problem visible and obvious and thereby create an awareness of it.

The fact that there is a huge discrepancy between the abundant and striking visual presentation of violence and individual arming in the media and almost non-existent and ineffective reactions from the viewers for these presentations reveals that the relationship between the media and violence should be investigated from the perspective of democratic culture. As opposed to different broadcasting policies and the attitude of the popular media that legitimizes the existing situation, The Turkish Journalists Association’s declaration, “Manifesto for the Rights and Responsibilities of Turkish Journalists”, is an indispensable text. In addition to this declaration, in order for the citizens to perceive the media presentations appropriately and be conscious about it, the concept of ‘media literacy’, in cooperation of the educational institutions, should be taught, recognized, implemented and made well-known.

It is fortunate that Turkey accepted the law on “firearms, its materials and parts and the protocol against its illegal producing and smuggling” in addition to U.N. protocol dated 12.02.2004 and with number 5095 “Organized Crimes Crossing the Borders”. Also, Turkey should approve the European Agreement, which has been in practice since 1 July 1982, on “Controlling the Owning and Carriage of Firearms by Individuals” which was signed on 03.04.1979. It is necessary to reconsider our country’s legislations regarding the international agreements such as AET’ (European Community) instruction dated 1 January 1991 with the number 91/477/CEE.

In particular, some changes are necessary in the statute with number 6136 “Firearms and Knives with Other Materials”.

We should aim for a long term campaign that restricts granting a “License to Carry Firearms” only to the security personnel.

A license to have firearms should be granted in the cases where there is a short term ‘serious threat to life’; for other legal procedures the process of granting a license should be regulated by more rigid rules.

The five years duration of licenses granted by the current regulations should be reduced to two years. One person should not be granted more than one license.

Aiming at individual disarming as the main target, relevant legal regulations should be developed for returning the non-licensed arms, discouraging obtaining one, and active remorse for carrying one.

Some control mechanisms should be formed to inspect and regulate various aspects of arming. In relation to the security issues of individual arming, active preventive measures should be added to legal regulations to reduce the demand for arm licenses as soon as possible. Legal regulations should also be modified to register all non-licensed arms and increase the legal sanctions against unlawful arm possession. Legal definitions under which licenses to carry arms are granted should be narrowed down and, if possible, these licenses should be turned into possession licenses. If the licenses to carry arms are granted on the basis of profession, these licenses should be valid only when the license owner is at the workplace or doing his work. Carrying arms, even if with a license should be made illegal if and when the license owner is intoxicated. Fake arms and arms with blank cartridges should be banned as well. Another urgent need is to establish a singular national data base. Also, the procedures to grant licenses to those who demand licenses on the basis of life threats should be opened to discussions. The required health reports for licensing should be prepared by a health commissions and detailed psychological tests that measure the person’s mental health, personal traits, and anger management capabilities should be made mandatory. These reports should be sent to the related institution confidentially. A certification program consisted of theoretical and practical training should be made compulsory as well. Minimum age requirement for licensing should be higher and a maximum age requirement should be legislated. Without notification, expired licenses should be cancelled six months after the expiration date if no attempts are made to renew them. The annual ammunition consumption should not only be restricted but also kept under constant surveillance.

September 28 has already gained recognition as the World Individual Disarming Day in the public. It is recommended to present a proposal to the government and the National Assembly for formally declaring September 28 as the World Individual Disarming Day. It is also our recommendation that some initiatives to ask the U.N. to recognize the day should be started as well.


Working Group Reports

Social Situation Working Group Report

The problem of arming cannot be understood without considering its international dimensions.

The doctrine of global ‘war on terror’ has caused an increase in international arm flow and loosening of the control and inspection of international arm transfers.

In the international realm:
  • Support should be given for the materialization of a treaty on international arm trade (Turkey is already supporting),
  • The mechanisms and the totality of principles about regional and international arm trading should be implemented (principles of the EU countries),
  • Marking and surveillance mechanisms and shared data banks on arm and arm equipment sales should be formed.
  • Easiness to posses an arm
  • Arm flow and international arm trade
  • Use of violence even by teachers
  • Crisis of trust
  • Disproportionate use of force by civil servants
  • Inclusion of offences against property in the definition of self-defence in the new Turkish Penal Code
  • Formation of a clear inspection and control policy about arm flow and international arm trade (the item about this subject in the Eighth Five Year Developmental Plan)
  • Marking and following of arms and ammunition
  • Working to decrease the demand
  • Getting the attention of governmental institutions and constantly following their actions
  • Effective implementation of already existing laws
  • Clear expressions of the opinions of political parties about disarming in their political programs
  • Development of methods and techniques that encourage disarming
  • The initiative by NGO’s to influence (through political input) the legislative body to take measures against individual arming
  • Raising the consciousness of civil servants about standard application
  • Development of techniques to solve the problem of arming by taking the regional features into consideration and mobilizing public forces (Regional clinics, city councils, Human Rights Boards in cities and towns, etc.)
  • Compilation of previous studies in one place
  • A campaign for general and specific education
  • The active participation of the state (through the Ministry of National Education) in the U.N.’s Decade for International Culture of Peace and Protection of Children from Violence (2000-2010)
  • Patriarchy is prominent and active in society
  • Arms are the element of violence.
  • The crisis of trust/the culture of fear
  • Not the open forms of communication but the form of “accusation-counter accusation-defence” is the prominent and widespread form of communication in society.
  • The culture of sacrifice and martyrdom is an element that makes use of arms widespread.
  • Arms and use of violence have been normalized
  • Legitimization of violence in society through disproportionate use of force
  • The end results of getting used to violence and perceiving it as a normal phenomenon: being desensitized, alienation, objectification of human beings and hence the easiness of killing them
  • Use of violence (arms) by marginalized sections of society as a means to defend themselves
  • Conducting researches (in frequency) about the sense of need to be armed
  • Formation of a terminology: instead of “a bullet from a yokel’s gun”, “as a result of individual arming” should be used to describe accidental killings
  • “Highly vocal” campaigning – with the participation of society –
  • A campaign for general and specific education
  • Special interest in mothers and daughters
  • Education of values (family training)
  • The development of a healthy identity (especially sexual identity) and personality
  • Gender
  • Emphasizing the priority of the culture of peace; developing methods and creating contexts for the cultivation of cultural elements which value human beings (education of human rights and the culture of peace)
  • The constant, effective, and systematic teaching of alternative (non-violent) conflict resolution techniques on every level of general/specific education; trainings for anger management (and emotional intelligence) and reconciliation strategies
  • The use of striking statistical data and information about arms for the purpose of education
  • The use of information and knowledge pragmatically – not for abstract reasons –
  • Informing and raising the consciousness of public opinion leaders
  • Not turning a blind eye to attitudes that are encouraging/praising arming, but exposing (condemning), watching
  • Not reproducing the legends about arms
  • Earning the support and contribution of the college youth (students of communication studies departments can organize contests for visual material; students from law schools can attend to some trials and form a pressure group, etc.)
  • Putting emphasis on the negative effects of arming on the economy
  • The contribution of the victims of violence – together and visibly – to the consciousness raising efforts
  • Mapping the values of society from a socio-cultural perspective (evaluation of and scrutiny on regional culture)
  • Formation of a peaceful, creative, and tolerant culture of entertainment
  • The crisis of trust
  • Degeneration of values
  • Chaos in the cultural realm
  • Alienation, objectification
  • Conducting research on why people feel the need to arm
  • Decreasing the demand
  • Development of methods for making human beings valuable
  • Being aware of unarmed methods for self-defence (putting a steal barrier in the balcony, etc.)
  • Making it well-known that possession of an arm is not a ‘right’
  • Making it well-known that possession of an arm is a security risk rather than a way to feel secure
Professor Ipek Gurkaynak Umut Foundation Board of Trustees Member – Gurkaynak Institute of Citizenship
Doctor Mustafa Toren Yucel Umut Foundation Board of Trustees Member – Cankaya University Law School

Professor Sebnem Fincanci Korur Istanbul University

Professor Betul Cotuksoken Maltepe University

Professor Ozcan Koknel Istanbul Ticaret University

Assistant Professor Bayhan Ege Maltepe University

Ozlem Dalkiran Amnesty International

Galma Jahic Istanbul Bilgi University

Munevver Mertoglu National Education Directorate City Division

Professor Nilufer Narli Bahcesehir University

Legal Working Group Report

Thanks to the years of efforts led by Umut Foundation, September 28 is accepted as Individual Disarming Day and widely recognized as such by general public. Therefore, we propose that the National Assembly and the government should formally declare September 28 as Individual Disarming Day and the same proposal should be extended to the U.N. as well.

It is deemed appropriate to remind all the bars and the Union of Bars the advisory decision taken by the Union of Turkish Bars on May 2001. The Union of Turkish Bars advised all of its branches and members to form commissions on individual disarming and to actively work toward finding solutions for the problems of individual arming.

In the context of international treaties, it is fortunate that Turkey accepted the UN protocol dated 12.02.2004 with the number 5095 on “Organized Crimes Crossing the Borders”. The confirmation of this treaty and its integration into the domestic law is an important step for Turkey to conform to international treaties. The results emerged out of Turkey’s participation to this treaty and the character and quality of it will definitely have a positive effect on the changes in the domestic law.
In this context, there is another treaty to be confirmed by Turkey. The European treaty, dated June 28th 1978 and effective since July 1st 1982, on the control and inspection of the purchase and possession of fire arms by individuals was signed by Turkey on April 3rd 1979. However, this treaty is yet to be confirmed. It should be confirmed.
Moreover, parallel to this treaty, some rules about the purchase and possession of fire arms and their transfer to other countries starting from January 1st 1993 were projected within the EU with the directive of European Economic Community, dated June 18th 1991 and numbered 91/477/CEE. It is mandatory that this treaty should be confirmed and, then, required legal changes for the implementation of the statutes of the directive should be made.

In the context of international treaties, it is proposed that the domestic law should be modified as to make it congruent with international treaties.

The legislation proposals about currently existing statute 6136 “Statute for Fire Arms and Knives and the Other Tools” are in the appendix.

The first proposal is about changing the sixth and seventh items of the statute to decrease the duration of licenses for possession and carrying arms from 5 years to two years. Also, for people like the president and the prime minister who are granted arm licenses because of their job, the duration of licenses is changed to 5 years. Another proposed change is not to grant one person more than one license. Some other changes also proposed in terms of determining the colour, shape, and the content of the licenses. The proposal addresses a ban on carrying arms while intoxicated and a requirement to attend to training classes about possession of an arm before gaining a license. It is also required to have a locking system while carrying a gun. A central system to keep the records and registrations of licenses is mandated. Actively working or retired people who can apply for a license because of the nature of their job will be granted licenses only if their life is in serious danger. According to this proposed change, if the Governor’s Office determines that one’s life is in serious danger because of her/his profession, then, it is possible to grant either a possession or a carrying license to that person. If it is a carrying license granted on the basis of a life threat, then what kind of an arm that person can have will be determined in detail by an ordinance of the relevant institution. In any case, the person’s choice should be restricted by defensive low-calibre arms. With the proposed changes, retired commissioned and non-commissioned military officers are not allowed to carry fire arms. Instead, they will be granted permission certificates that allow them to possess arms for two years. These persons can have carrying licenses only when their lives are in danger. The last proposed change is to end the tax exempt for licensing transactions.

Since the proposed changes in the statute will indirectly affect the existing ordinances, the ordinances should be revised according to the proposed changes. In fact, ideally we would like to propose the total elimination of carrying licenses. In this way, civilians would not have the right to carry arms which would be ideally granted only to security forces. Yet, since realizing such a proposal is next to impossible under the conditions of our country, we removed the total elimination of carrying licenses from our proposal but thought that we could present to you anyways.

The second proposed change to the statute belongs to Kirklareli deputy Mehmet Kesimoglu. He proposed to add another item to the statute 6136 which defines and lists places one cannot enter carrying an arm. This proposal has been accepted and added to our report. His proposal has the obvious advantage of defining places one cannot enter carrying an arm by the statute rather than an ordinance.

The statute 2421 which regulates production, purchase, sale, and possessions of hunting and sporting arms, targeting arms, and hunting knives should be revised with reference to the new penal code. Also, the ordinance about licensing and returning of the arms in the possession of temporary and voluntary village guards should be eliminated. Instead, the arms that are described in this ordinance should simply be returned.

Considering the results of panic regulations that have been in effect in Turkey for years, it is proposed that some items should be changed in the statute to decrease the crime rate by increasing the sanctions against those crimes. Of course, these changes should take the new Turkish Penal Code into consideration. The reason behind this proposal is that financial and similar sanctions have proved to be more effective than incarceration in preventing these kinds of crimes. Thus, based on this idea, it is proposed that item 13 in the statute 6136 should be changed into ‘…incarceration or a minimum of 100 days judicial fine’.

To encourage disarming, an additional item should be added to the statute 6136 to include amnesty for those who return their unlicensed arms and ammunitions. Accordingly, “Those who return arms, ammunition, and the other equipment and tools defined by this statute to the related institutions before the prosecution process starts cannot be prosecuted.” In this way, to maintain disarming, a continuous state of remorse is regulated by the statute.

To sum up, we propose necessary changes in the law, making the domestic law in congruence with the international treaties, and either total abolishment or rearrangement of currently existing ordinances. Within the framework of our proposals, the new ordinances to implement the law will create and maintain an increased level of inspection and control mechanisms. For example, it is especially important that not only arms but also the ammunition should be kept under registration. In our proposal, the ammunition will not be dispensed at once but rationed through a time period and also the number of ammunition dispensed per person will be reduced to less than 200. If a person demands more ammunition, it will be mandatory to either document or report where, why, and how the person has used the ammunition. Another urgent issue is to make the legal regulations about fake arms and arms with blank cartridges. We also recommend that changes should be made to require use of specialized hospitals and specialist doctors in preparing the health reports for the license applicants.

Aside from these proposed changes, we recommend to replace the statute 6136 with a new unified ‘arm statute’ which would include all the regulations and ordinances.

Umut Foundation declares that, aside from the changes in the current law and ordinances, it is ready to cooperate and carry out its duties in every field in terms of making new legal regulations and the preparation of proposals for new statutes.


Lawyer Fikret Ilkiz Umut Foundation Board of Trustee Member – Legal Counsellor to Turkish Journalists Association
Professor Timur Demirtas Bahcesehir University
Professor Durmus Tezcan Istanbul Kultur University
Lawyer Abdurrahman Bayramoglu Istanbul Bar Individual Disarming Commission 
Lawyer Hulya Ozkan Istanbul Bar Individual Disarming Commission
Lawyer Hulya Kesim Istanbul Bar
Lawyer Halim Ozatan Dedeman Corporation
Lawyer Cezmi Erdemgil Dedeman Corporation
Ayhan Selcuk Ozgenc Marmara University



The Media Working Group Report

General Evaluation:

During meetings the following evaluations have been made:

The following remarks have been made based on RTUK’s (Radio Television High Commission) text in the folder presented to the meeting:

It is determined that only 3,390 complaints out of a total 39,646 complaints made to the RTUK between January 1st and September 5th 2005 were about shows containing violence and arms. It was highlighted that, out of these 3,390 complaints, 2,259 of them were about shows and news reports broadcasting ‘scenes of violence’, 608 of them were about ‘shows that encourage and teach violent actions to children and the young’, 231 of them are about ‘shows that have negative influence on the viewer because of the violence included in them’, 80 of them are about ‘shows considered to give wrong messages because of the scenes of brutality and torture’; and only 218 of them are about ‘shows that depict the use of arm and similar tools’.

It is determined that 8.5% of the 39,646 complaints were about violence and only 6.4% of the complaints about violence referred to arms. This means that the complaints about arms were only 0.5% of the total complaints. Based on this data, it is concluded that the problem of arms is not seen as a problem but as a normal phenomenon. It is emphasized that this mentality should be changed.

Aside from the ones above the following evaluations and remarks have been made.

People are not aware of the fact that the media is harmful for them and their children. It is not unusual that when the broadcast is interfered because of the violent scenes, some family members show protesting reactions. Moreover, while people show their reaction mostly to sexual scenes, even to fashion shows featuring swimming suits, most of the time there is no reaction to TV shows depicting the killing of tens of people. It is safe to assume that the viewers show their reactions to generalize their own honour code as to render it effective for all of the sections of society.

It is observed that some TV channels risk every kind of fines and sanctions to increase their rating and the general public does not seem to raise any protesting voice against it. It is a common line of defence for TV channels to emphasize the fact that they are in fact commercial businesses. Under these conditions, the public good is ignored and neglected.

It is pointed out that the differences among different sections of media should not be ignored when evaluating the attitude of the media toward violence and individual arming.

It is stated that the fact that private TV broadcasting started under the absence of any legal and constitutional regulation has still a lot of negative effects on the media. Some media institutions still continue their habits from the unregulated period in relation to violence. The media institutions consider the demand to follow broadcasting principles as illegitimate interference.

It is further assessed that as in all kinds of media presentations, the triangle of the source of news/viewer/the media should be taken into consideration when assessing the performance of the media in relation to the problem of violence. Accordingly, we should not demand and expect the media to shoulder all the responsibility.

It is observed that the inspection and control units within the media institutions assess the events with an approach similar to that of the habits of general public.

It is a scientifically established fact that especially children are influenced by the TV than printed media. Not only children but also the adult viewers do not perceive the scenes of violence in a unity. As a result, only the most striking images remain in the viewer’s mind encouraging violence.

The media – violence relation should be considered from the perspective of a democratic culture and a new media literacy should be consolidated in every aspect of everyday life.


Under the light of the above assessments the following solution suggestions are determined.

  1. Some institutional efforts are necessary to force all the media institutions to follow and implement the principles stated in the Turkish Journalists Association’s declaration ‘Manifesto for the Rights and Responsibilities of Turkish Journalists’. As it is formulated in the third item of the declaration under the title of ‘the basic duties and principles of the journalist’, it is especially important to follow and implement the following: ‘The journalist cannot publicize news that legitimizes, encourages, and incites violence of any kind.’
  2. For discussing the declaration mentioned above and informing the journalists from a legal perspective, Umut Foundation should organize seminars in cooperation with the Turkish Journalists Association and Istanbul Bar.
  3. Following the examples of a lot of other countries, the elementary school curriculum should include classes about ‘media literacy’. This kind of education should be pursued in on the higher levels of education as well. It is expected that through such an educational effort, the citizens will be more conscious about perceiving the media and as viewers they will internalize their duties and responsibilities about it.
  4. Society should be taught and convinced in the principle of the primacy of the law. To do this, legal and judicial regulations should be made to render it impossible for the individuals to seek their rights with brute force.
  5. Some institutional initiatives should be started to force prominent figures, starting with the members of the parliament to stop accusing media for presenting their acts of violence and start taking responsibility for those acts. After all, these prominent figures are supposed to set good examples for the public.
  6. As it has been done in the case of reminding the traffic rules, to prevent individual arming, the media should air educational shows for the public good. Regulations should be made to allow such a practice.
  7. In their everyday life, the citizens encounter some situations in which the use of arms is encouraged. (for example, some shops exhibit guns for sale on their windows.) The media should not advertise and publicize such events.
  8. Individual use of arms should be restricted even outside the residential areas. People should be able to use their arms only in legal firing ranges. To implement this, arms should be subject to regular inspections and checks.

We are aware of the fact that some of our assessments above are not directly related to the media and they are covered by the other working groups. However, we think that the issues we have discussed above should be represented and interpreted in the media and hence decided to include in our assessments.


Nail Güreli Umut Foundation Trustee - Milliyet Newspaper
Orhan Erinç Turkish Journalists Association 
Professor Nurçay Türkoğlu Marmara University 
Nagehan Parlakoğlu Radio Television High Commission 
Tolga Korkut Bianet


Security Working Group Report

Conclusion Statement

  1. The introduction of active and urgent measures about individual arming that reduce the demand into the legislation
  2. Development of urgent measures to register unlicensed arms, and after this process increasing the sanctions against unlicensed arms
  3. Licensing of unregistered arms by using a common database accessible to the relevant units of the Gendarmerie General Command and Security General Directorate.
  4. Decreasing the numbers of carrying licenses, and if possible changing them to licenses to possess arms, making sure that the arms are carried only in the relevant workplace
  5. Creating serious legal regulations with regard to fake arms and arms with blank cartridges
  6. Taking measures for encouraging to turning arms in
  7. Reviewing the places where arms are banned and enlarging the definition and the list of such places, especially restricting entry while carrying an arm into places where alcohol is served, prohibition on carrying an arm while intoxicated
  8. Making the procedures for granting a license under life threat a subject of discussion
  9. Mandating the preparation of health reports by the health commissions rather than by private physicians, inclusion of the departments of psychiatry, orthopaedics, neurology, KBB , optometry, internal surgery in the process of preparation of the health report, compulsory detailed psychological tests that measure the general mental health of the individual, renewal of the health report every five years, sending the health report to the relevant institutions directly and confidentially by the health commission
  10. Opening the certification program, including theoretical and practical training, to discussion, developing the certification programs, and making them compulsory
  11. Raising the minimum age requirement and bringing a maximum age requirement, restrictions on the number of arms registered in the name of one person
  12. Cancelling the licenses six months after the expiration date without a notification for renewal
  13. Reduction of annual number of ammunition and surveillance of it
  14. Forming control mechanism about possession and inspection of arms and ammunition

Dr. Ayhan Akcan Umut Foundation Trustee - BAPAM 

Professor İbrahim Balcıoğlu Istanbul University 
Tuncay Pekin Security General Directorate 
Yener Köksümer 
Chief Gendarme Officer Murat Oruç Istanbul Gendarme Headquarters
Chief Gendarme Ali Canlı Istanbul Gendarme Headquarters 
Salih Kara Istanbul Police Department 
Ümit Erdoğan Şişli Police Department 
Okçin Akşit General Command of the Gendarmerie
Chief Officer Abdullah Cengiz Istanbul Gendarmerie Headquarters 
Nuri Keten Kağıthane Police Department 
Faruk Atay Beyoğlu Police Department
Savaş Akın Beşiktaş Police Department 
Okan Sönmez Beşiktaş Police Department
Mustafa Aksu Sarıyer Polce Department 
H. İbrahim Çubuk Beşiktaş Police Department
Lütfi İzci Eyüp Police Department
Başkomiser Melih Beştak Istanbul Police Department