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NEWS UPDATES 7 September 2010

Control over firearms needed in Indonesia

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Illicit arms in Indonesia,* the latest briefing from the International Crisis Group, examines four sources of illegal guns in Indonesia: theft or illegal purchase from the security forces, leftover stockpiles in conflict areas, manufacture by local gunsmiths and smuggling.

The issue has come to public attention after a number of high-profile robberies and the discovery in February that weapons used in a terrorist training camp came from old police stocks. There are several major gaps in the system of gun control now in place.

While civilians were not supposed to own weapons for self-defence after 2005, enforcement of the new policy was decidedly lax and online sales of firearms continue.

Procedures for storage of guns by military and police seem stringent but armouries in many areas are neither as well-guarded or inventoried as they should be, as evidenced by the trial that began last week of two police officers suspected of selling 28 guns to jihadis from a warehouse for outdated weapons.

A homemade gun industry continues to produce illegal pistols that fire real bullets. While customs inspections have improved in recent years, smuggling of small quantities of weapons from abroad remains a problem, with some contractors operating in the gray area between legal imports and illegal sales.

One area that needs more attention is the regulation of the hugely popular “airsoft” guns that replicate trademark models of pistols and assault rifles but fire plastic pellets. Initially considered toys like paintball guns, they were included in 2004 regulations on civilian gun ownership after they began to be used in the commission of crimes.

There is no enforcement, however, and stores in Jakarta sell them over the counter without permits. Terrorists are attracted to airsoft guns because they can hone their military skills on them, and some dealers of them advertise in Indonesian jihadi magazines and web sites.

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