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UNODA Occasional Papers No.25: The Gun-Free Zone - A Tool to Prevent and Reduce Armed Violence, December 2013

image of UNODA Occasional Papers No.25: The Gun-Free Zone - A Tool to Prevent and Reduce Armed Violence, December 2013

UNODA Occasional Papers is a series of ad hoc publications that deal with topical issues in the field of arms limitation, disarmament and international security and are intended primarily for those concerned with these matters in Government, civil society and in the academic community. This paper brings together existing information and experiences from practitioners and policy makers and analyzes the impact of Gun-Free Zones (GFZs) in order to determine when and where GFZs can be a valuable measure to prevent and reduce armed violence. It gives national governments, local authorities and international development and peacebuilding agencies and organizations a better understanding of GFZ in order to incorporate, where applicable, this tool into their strategies.

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Introduction

Gun-free zones (GFZs) are to be found in every country. Legislation may differ, but typically civilians are not allowed to bring a gun into police stations, courts, parliaments, sports stadiums, airports, etc. While these areas could technically be qualified as “gun-free zones” (“gun-free” always applying to civilians, not to military, police or even private security companies), they are not the focus of this paper. This paper centers on GFZs established as a—mostly regional or local—complement to existing national regulation, as a specific ad hoc tool to prevent and reduce armed violence in communities where a large proportion of (attempted) homicides is perpetrated with illegal guns: countries affected by high levels of armed violence (above 20 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants) or countries in post-conflict settings. Also, the paper does not go into detail on GFZs associated with armed conflict (e.g., “zones of peace” and refugee camps).

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