Most Capital Homes Armed, Door-to-Door Study Reveals

Police searching for illegal weapons in recent months  found that nearly two of every three Phnom Penh households  they surveyed had firearms—but only 12 percent of them were illegal, according to an update of the municipality’s gun-control effort.

The latest figures from the door-to-door gun check show that of the more than 15,000 households inspected as of Feb 2,  9,922 had guns, said Sok Leakhena, deputy chief cabinet of the municipality.

The city found that 1,165 of the guns, or 12 percent,  were not registered with the Ministry of Interior. The rest were registered weapons, including those held by military and police, he said.

The city government launched the gun control campaign in early October.

Sok Leakhena said that the municipality has instructed illegal gun holders either to register them at the Interior Ministry or to turn them in to the municipality through its “buy-back” scheme.

The municipality has been paying 40,000 (about $10) riel for AK-47s and long weapons, 50,000 riel (about $13) for shotguns and 5,000 riel (just over $1) for grenades, officials said.

Sok Leakhena said the city has collected 665 guns and at least 70 grenades.

“We’ve been receiving illegal weapons every week,” said  Chea Sophara, first deputy governor of Phnom Penh. “I think our gun-control campaign is successful.”

The campaign is aimed at reducing the number of illegal weapons and explosives and ultimately helping to reduce armed crimes in the capital, Chea Sophara said.

An expert on social development, however, suspects the credibility of the survey.

“We don’t know how many families truly reported about their guns,” said Kao Kim Hourn, executive director of the Cam­bodia Institute for Cooperation and Peace.

“I think the actual number of illegal weapons could be much higher.”

However, he sees the municipality’s campaign as a good start to developing Phnom Penh into a non-violent, disarmed society.

“Cambodia is a post-conflict society. Lots of weapons will circulate in the society until we have a tough gun control law which imposes heavy penalty,” he said. “[This campaign] is a good start to go to the right direction.”

Related Stories

Latest News