Honduran officials have announced that confiscated firearms will be redistributed among the security forces, boosting ill-equipped agencies, and diverting the arms away from the black market.
Officials estimate the police currently have 4,000 weapons stored as evidence. Those that are legal in Honduras, for the most part handguns, will be distributed to police, military and Justice Department officials. The illegal guns, including AK-47s and carbines, will be destroyed, reported El Heraldo.
The announcement comes at a time when civil society groups are calling for the government to revive proposed gun control laws, which have been languishing in the Honduran Congress for four years, reported El Heraldo.
Two proposals to tighten restrictions on access to guns, and to improve registrations, have been stalled in Honduras’ Congress since 2009.
The decision to redistribute seized weapons will not only help equip Honduran security forces, but could also help avoid the sort of leakage the country has seen in the past — as in 2011 when approximately 3,000 guns disappeared from government warehouses.
A concern, however, is that Honduras’ police and military have often been accused of carrying out extrajudicial executions.
However, of more pressing concern is the need to reform Honduras’s famously lax gun control laws. According to the National Commissioner for Human Rights (CONADEH), there are more than 850,000 guns in Honduras, yet only 258,000 are registered.
The ready availability of weapons undoubtedly contributes to Honduras’ title of the world’s murder capital, as over 80 percent of murders are carried out with firearms.
However, imposing stricter gun laws will not necessarily lower the murder rate, as there are many structural factors, including drug trafficking and political divisions, that contribute to violence.