Weapons Ban Eases Public’s Fears, Survey Says Since Weapons Ban

About three-quarters of Cam­bodians believe security has improved due to a six-month-old wea­pons crackdown, according to a survey released this week by advocates of the firearms ban.

The Working Group for Wea­pons Reduction in Cambodia, a confederation of NGOs that supports the ban, surveyed 476 people in 12 pro­vinces and Phnom Penh between July and Sep­tember.

Those surveyed “re­quested” that the government “continue to collect illegal weapons,” take “strict­er measures to control criminal activity,” and destroy the wea­pons, the report’s authors say.

The government began a high-profile weapons crackdown in May, banning the use of most privately-owned guns by those outside the military and police and setting up checkpoints. Prime Minis­ter Hun Sen himself presided over a ceremony to smash confiscated firearms at Olympic Stadium soon after.

Eighty-two percent of those surveyed supported the program. Seventy-four percent said they believed that security had im­proved since the weapons collection program, 12 percent said it has worsened and 12 percent had no opinion.

However, corruption remained a concern. Only about 60 percent believed authorities confiscated weapons in accordance with na­tional strategy, and 24 percent said they feared nepotism, bri­bery, and a lack of proper notification had flawed the procedures.

Neb Sinthay, coordinator of the Working Group for Weapons Reduction, praised the efforts of the government but expressed concerns about whe­ther the vigilance would continue.

Some observers suggested more action was needed to get the situation under control. “We are seeing fewer stories of neighbors killing each other with firearms over dogs, and fewer stories about husbands killing wives with guns,” said Chea Vannath, president of the Center for Social Development.

“But if you go out at nighttime, you still do not feel the difference. Robbery and theft is still happening, and they are still using guns.”

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