Bogota cracks down on illegal guns

Temporary ban in public places seen as a new chapter for the capital city of a country with a long legacy of violence.

    Under the constitution, Colombians can carry guns with a permit. However, researchers estimate that for every two licensed guns in the South American country, there are four illegal ones, making up to five million illegal weapons in circulation.

    Many are tied to the country's rebel, paramilitary and drug trafficking-groups.

    Until now, carrying guns in Bogota, Colombia's capital city, has been a way of life - in cinema halls, shopping malls, on buses and in the streets - and perfectly legal too.

    But a new three-month ban against guns in public places means that Colombians will now have to leave them at home.

    The mayor of Bogota is experimenting with a measure to try to cut the city's murder rate. For the next three months, Bogota has banned all guns in public places.

    Colombia has the fifth-highest rate of violent deaths in the world, and if the gun ban does work, it could not only become permanent but also implemented nationwide.

    Al Jazeera's Jesse Mesner-Hage reports.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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