Yemeni officials and security experts called for the continuation of the security campaign to enforce the ban on weapon-carrying inside cities, following the positive impact the campaign had on decreasing crime rates and establishing tranquillity and stability.
Security forces seized 14,632 illegal firearms across all provinces in August alone, following a crackdown on weapon-carrying in the capital Sanaa and other major cities, the interior ministry announced last week.
Security forces seized 289 illegal weapons inside cities during daily inspection campaigns, in addition to 161 weapons used to commit different crimes and 14,182 weapons seized inside the security belt surrounding provincial capitals and major Yemeni cities, the ministry said.
The Interior Ministry said the weapon-carrying ban, which was reinforced last month, helped lower crime rates and criminal cases by up to 10 %.
The plan played a positive role in preventing crime and turned into an effective tool in maintaining security and stability in the community, according to the ministry.
The ministry also reported that 32 people died in August in accidents involving accidental shootings or the mishandling of weapons, including eight women and six children. There were 104 others injured, including 25 children and eight women.
The Yemeni government had launched a campaign five years ago to curb the phenomenon of weapon-carrying. However, the ability of authorities to confiscate unlicensed personal weapons from citizens declined in 2011 because of the political crisis and the deteriorating security situation in the country, officials said.
Dr. Mohammed al-Qaedi, interior ministry spokesperson, told Al-Shorfa that "weapon-carrying poses many dangerous threats, and the campaign's success hinges on the continuation and expansion of its efforts on a larger scale."
Weapon-carrying leads to higher rates of all types of crimes, organised or otherwise, because of ease of access to weapons, al-Qaedi added.
Al-Qaedi said events in Yemen increased people's desire to carry firearms, and that the media, civil society organisations and political parties have an important role in educating citizens about the dangers of this phenomenon.
"Researchers put the number [of guns in citizens' possession] at 5 million before the 2011 crisis, though it is much higher now as a result of the crisis," he said.
Other estimates have put the number of weapons at 50 million, he added.
Al-Qaedi urged the parliament to expedite the issuance of a new law that regulates weapon-carrying and possession, since the situation has worsened.
"We had reached a stage where even fireworks at weddings were banned. But now, after last year's events that destabilised the security situation, we see medium and heavy weapons used in [celebratory gunfire in] weddings once again," he said.
He said the interior ministry directed security agencies in the various provinces to arrest anyone who uses weapons in weddings.
Member of Parliament Nabil Sadeq Basha told Al-Shorfa that the parliament has added to its agenda a new draft law that regulates weapon-carrying and possession.
He added, however, that "it is not a question of whether a new draft law is issued, but also whether it is strongly enforced and people adhere to it, given its positive benefits that would help maintain stability and protect against individual crimes, whether intentional or accidental, as well as crimes committed by groups, all of which claim the lives of innocent people."
Political analyst Mohammed al-Ghabri told Al-Shorfa that "regulating weapon-carrying requires an integrated vision that seeks to reduce crime rate and also crack down on armed groups that exploit this situation to carry out terrorist attacks against innocent people."
"People carry guns because they are convinced that the government is incapable of providing security for them," he said. "Thus, if the government is able to provide security, I believe many will surrender their weapons voluntarily."