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Authorities seek to curb use of army rifles for crime

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By George Psyllides

MILITARY authorities are putting measures in place to prevent assault rifles issued to reservists to be used in unlawful acts, the defence minister said yesterday.

The move came after G3 rifles were used in two murder-suicide incidents in less than a year, as well as other occasions.

“The weapons are given by the state to reservists in a bid to strengthen national security and defence and should be exclusively used for this purpose,” Christophoros Fokaides said.
The measures will not affect the National Guard’s operational capabilities.

“We are obliged to enforce all necessary measures, which ensure that our reservists can report to their unit fast,” the minister said.

The measures involve securing the weapon with a special mechanism that will only be removed in case of emergency or during exercises.

This will apply to reservists serving in frontline units.

The rest of the reserve force would have to remove the firing pin from their rifle and hand it over to their unit. It will be returned to them in an emergency or exercise.

“In this way the arms will remain at the homes of he reservists but under far safer conditions,” the minister said.

The decision followed the public outcry sparked when G3s were used to murder spouses, and a child in one case, and then to commit suicide.

In Nicosia June this year, a 41-year old electrician shot and killed his estranged wife and his nine-year old daughter. He also shot his son, 14, who eventually survived despite sustaining two gunshot wounds.

Pittis stood over his son in the street and then took his own life.

Last October, a 32-year-old man shot and killed his wife with his assault rifle and injured his underage daughter before taking his own life at the home of the woman’s parents in Ayios Ioannis in Limassol.

G3s were also used in robberies like the one in Nicosia in August where three robbers held the driver of the small commercial vehicle was on a money run at gunpoint and stole €25,000 belonging to a co-op bank.

A dangerous former convict who was on the run from police for several days in April had also used a G3 to fire at his pursuers.

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