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Cyprus

Tougher gun controls for ‘psycho’ reservists

By Peter Stevenson

THE GOVERNMENT wants tougher gun controls that will prevent army reservists with psychological problems or who show aggressive behaviour from possessing a weapon.

The cabinet approved a raft of measures on Wednesday following last month’s murder-suicide where a reservist in Limassol killed his estranged wife and then himself.

The incident happened when the 32-year-old man shot and killed his 27-year-old wife with his army issue assault rifle, injured his ten year old daughter on the hand, and then took his own life.

“The majority of the measures which are being introduced are not new but they outline how each department or service is required to improve how they coordinate with the National Guard and the police,” a Defence Ministry spokesman said.

Following an inter-service meeting in early October, the Defence Ministry deemed it necessary for everyone involved in the issue of gun control within the National Guard (NG) to coordinate their efforts more efficiently. Taking part in that meeting were officials from the NG, police, mental health services, the health ministry, the psychiatric society, the personal data commission, the social welfare department and the union of communities.

It was decided that reservists will be reminded that they need to pack their weapon and ammo in separate, safe places. The Defence Ministry said it may carry out random checks to make sure that weapons are packed away in a safe place and that instructions are being followed.

In cases where the police or the NG establish that a weapon has been used illegally by any reservist then the Defence Ministry will be notified and decide on what measures to take, while if ammunition is lost or stolen, the reservist will be charged for the loss.

The police and the NG will exchange information on a monthly basis regarding who is eligible to carry a weapon, whether it is a hunting rifle or army issue.

The general public and local community councils will also need to inform the welfare services, the police or the NG about people who are acting aggressively or may have threatened others with violence and deemed dangerous to their family or others.

Psychologist associations will be tasked to inform the social welfare department of people who are deemed to be dangerous and should not possess a firearm, without violating any confidentiality agreements. The social welfare department in turn would inform the police and the NG.

The health ministry’s mental health services will also be responsible for informing the NG of any cases of people with psychological problems who are banned from owning a weapon.

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