Carrying firearms is deeply rooted in Yemeni culture. Our grandfathers and our fathers were used to firing shots during family ceremonies, marriages, funerals etc. This makes it hard to change mentalities. And unfortunately, incidents like those in the video are very common in my country.
A law came into force in 1992 to regulate the bearing of arms. The law continues to allow citizens to own firearms to defend themselves, but they must get permits from the interior ministry
. But in reality, the granting of permits does not follow any objective criteria; it just depends on the ministry employee’s mood.
In October, following a rise of killings and kidnappings in the capital, the authorities launched a campaign to control the flow of weapons. But this operation is not efficient. One of the participants of the campaign against weapons told me this anecdote, for example. He was queuing up at a checkpoint in his car. A soldier was getting ready to search the trunk of the car in front of him when his superior ordered him to stop. The officer then hugged the driver, whom he knew, and let him through…
Firearms are very common in tribal areas, but also among young people in big cities. Our campaign is targeted at them because they are the most irresponsible, and for them, machine guns symbolise power and are a source of pride. So we regularly organise meetings with young people in order to discuss the dangers of trivialising firearms.