From: Alice Taylor
Gun Deaths and Crime on the Rise in Albania, Men Aged 19-35 Most Likely to Offend

Out of the 3,566 perpetrators of firearm incidents in the Balkans during 2020, 98% were men. Furthermore, the number of deaths from firearms has increased over the last few years.

This is according to the Armed Violence Monitor report, authored by the South Easter and Easter Europea Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SEESAC), functioning under the United Nations Development Programme and the Regional Cooperation Council.

The results indicate “a highly gendered nature of firearm misuse,” with men aged between 19-35 being the most common culprits. Those aged 36-60 were next. The report also found that men were responsible for 99% of domestic violence and intimate partner violence.

During the year, ten men and one woman committed suicide with a firearm following a domestic violence incident.

In terms of violence against a partner, men aged 36-60 were those most likely to be the perpetrators, accounting for more than half of the registered incidents.

Majlinda Bregu, Secretary-General of the RCC, said it’s no surprise that in 2020, domestic violence was on the rise in the region, considering the global trend. She said that people must do more to raise awareness of the issue.

According to data gathered by SecuriMeter, almost half of Western Balkan citizens feel threatened by the illegal possession and misuse of weapons in their neighborhood. 91% said they wouldn’t own a gun, but 3% said they had one.

In 2020, there were 372 reported instances of firearm crimes in Albania. 317 of these were committed by men. First in the region for gun crime was Kosovo, followed by Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Albania. The highest number of male perpetrators was found in Serbia and Albania.

As for the kinds of incidents reported in Albania, there were seven accidental shootings (celebratory/hunting), 84 with a criminal context, ten disputes with police, 58 public disputes, 88 weapon seizures, and 50 other incidents.

Out of these incidents, 41 people were murdered with a firearm in Albania in 2020. 

This means Albania’s gun death rate is 1.46 per 100,000. Globally, this puts it somewhere in the middle. Greece, Denmark, and Portugal have similar rates, while countries like Honduras (60 per 100,000), Venezuela (49), and El Salvador (42) take the top spots. Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan are bottom of the list with almost 0.

Albanian men aged 19-35 were the most likely out of all surveyed countries to commit a firearms crime.

There are approximately 210,000 illegal weapons in Albania; that’s one weapon for every 13 citizens.

In 1997, citizens took some 839 million ammunition units from army depots and 16 million explosives, and over half a million firearms. To date, only around 40% have been returned.

In 2019, many weapons and ammunition units were stolen from a military base near Vlora. According to the report, many automatic combat weapons, grenades, cartridges, combat rifles, and various other paraphernalia were lifted from the base, with many believing it was an inside job.

Albania has been the center of a Balkan-wide weapons trafficking network with firearms entering the country from Macedonia, Kosovo, and Montenegro.

Earlier this year, the government announced plans to change the law on gun ownership, reducing the minimum age of gun licenses from 25 years to 22 years old.

The rate of gun deaths in  Albania in 2016 (when data was last available) is 1.37% of all violent fatalities, higher than the US rate. More than 12,000 people have died from gun crime in Albania since 1991.

This shows that the number of gun-related deaths has increased over the last four years.

While the government has organized several amnesties, they haven’t yielded a significant response.