Baghdad gun shops thrive after Iraqi rethink on arms control

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A man checks a weapon before he buys at a weapons shop in Baghdad, Iraq, August 11, 2018. (Reuters)
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Picture taken August 11, 2018. (Reuters)
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A worker checks weapons at a weapons shop in Baghdad, Iraq, August 11, 2018. Picture taken August 11, 2018. (Reuters)
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A man checks a weapon before he buys at a weapons shop in Baghdad, Iraq, August 11, 2018. Picture taken August 11, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 19 August 2018
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Baghdad gun shops thrive after Iraqi rethink on arms control

  • Shop owner sees increasing demand from women, says self-defence is main reason for buying
  • Customer says legalized gun sales will act as crime deterrent

BAGHDAD: In the middle of Baghdad’s busy commercial neighborhood of Karrada, where most retail outlets sell home appliances, shoppers can now also buy handguns and semi-automatic rifles legally for the first time in decades.
After the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003, illegal weapons trade flourished across the country. Looted guns from ransacked police stations and military bases were sold in streets and public areas to residents seeking to protect themselves in a state that was largely lawless.
The authorities have since been battling to curb illegal weapon sales and the government has stepped up efforts to control gun ownership through regulation.
The latest initiative came into force this summer and allows citizens to own and carry handguns, semi-automatic rifles and other assault weapons after obtaining official authorization and an identity card that also details the individual’s weapons.
Previously, gun sales were restricted to firearms for hunting and sport.
Hamza Maher opened his new gun shop in Karrada after receiving official approval from the Interior Ministry and says there has been growing demand for his wares.
“Customers are mainly men, but the number of women buyers is growing,” said Maher inside his shop, where a variety of pistols and assault rifles are on display.
“The reason for buying is self-defense, and it’s safer for citizens to buy a weapon from an authorized store instead of from an unknown source.”
Pistol prices in Maher’s shop range from $1,000 to $4,000, while Kalashnikov assault rifles can be had from as little as $400 up to $2,000, depending on the brand and manufacturing origin, he said.
Haider Al-Suhail, a tribal sheikh from Baghdad, welcomed the legalization of gun stores.
“Yes, it will decrease crime,” he said on a visit to Maher’s shop to buy assault rifles for his ranch guards. “The criminal who plans to attack others will understand that he will pay heavy price.”


Rake news: Social media ablaze on Trump’s forest remarks for Finland

Updated 44 min 53 sec ago
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Rake news: Social media ablaze on Trump’s forest remarks for Finland

  • US President Donald Trump claimed the forest-covered nation prevents wildfires by raking its forest floors
  • Raking-related terms were among the most popular Twitter hashtags and Google searches in the Nordic nation

HELSINKI: Social media in Finland was ablaze with bemused comments on Monday after US President Donald Trump claimed the forest-covered nation prevents wildfires by raking its forest floors.
Speaking to reporters during the weekend while in California to see the impact of devastating forest fires, the US president again blamed forest management, but said Finland had the answer.
Trump cited the Finnish president as telling him Finns “spend a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things (in the forest), and they don’t have any problem.”
However the Nordic country’s president, Sauli Niinisto, told the Ilta-Sanomat newspaper on Sunday that he had no recollection of raking being mentioned when the pair met in Paris a week ago.
“I told him that Finland is a country covered in forests, but we also have a good warning system and network,” the president said.
Finnish social media users were quick to pile in, describing Trump’s comments as “rake news” and posting pictures of themselves brandishing the garden implement.
By late Sunday, raking-related terms were among the most popular Twitter hashtags and Google searches in the Nordic nation which is 72 percent covered by forests, predominantly of pine, birch and fir.
Meanwhile Yrjo Niskanen, head of emergency preparedness at Finland’s national forest center, said the US president may have been referring to the practice of removing branches and loose material left in the forest after logging.
But he pointed out that this is not done with a rake — and the wood is collected for energy production.
“I’ve never thought before that it could be removed because of the fire risk, that’s not mentioned in any forestry manuals. It’s taken away purely for business reasons,” Niskanen told the Iltalehti newspaper.