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Gun Possession and Use in Crete Continues Despite Measures

Crete is a place where people are accustomed to celebrating weddings by firing a gun into the air, and although this isn’t the safest way to celebrate, a discussion on banning weapon possession and use is out of the question for locals.
A Cretan resident, George Michelakis told VICE magazine that weapon possession is part of the tradition on the Greek island. In the past, the use of rifles was necessary for protection, hunting, or calling for help. However, after 1970 when the illegal weapons trade began, the situation got out of control.
The Cretans like to shoot in the air to express their joy in certain social gatherings, like weddings. This custom often leads to tragic results, like serious injuries and even deaths. Despite many gun confiscations, especially during 1992-1996, the number of cases of illegal weapon possession and use has dropped but has not been eliminated. Legal authorities are very tolerant. In many cases, local policemen who have grown up with these customs turn a blind eye. In recent years, the weapon control laws have led to an increase in gun smuggling.
According to a police officer, local police are aware of the illegal weapons trafficking networks. However, neither police nor the port police can locate them due to lack of necessary means and manpower.
Illegal weapons arrive in Greece mainly from Libya, Israel, Lebanon, Egypt, and the U.S. Smugglers unload their contraband in Gavdos, a small island between Crete and Africa. In Greece, weapons are generally sold more than five times their price. In Libya for example, an illegal gun costs 150 euros, while in Greece it may sell for up to 2,500 euros.

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