Online trading in guns in Portugal is spiralling, with many coming in via Turkey and Slovakia, warns PSP director Pedro Moura.
Talking to Diário de Notícias, Moura’s warning covers the whole European market.
Responsible for the PSP’s department of weapons and explosives, Moura explains that cheap guns – sometimes costing less than €100 – are being marketed in Turkey as starter pistols, for example, and transformed after purchase into weapons of combat.
Cooperation between countries’ police forces is “indispensable”, he told CM, as the number of weapons coming into Europe are increasing all the time.
In Turkey and Slovakia their sales are ‘legal’. It is only when they enter markets like Portugal that the deal becomes illegal, and “shipping companies are obliged to communicate these deliveries to the AT tax authority” which then has to follow the paper-trail backwards, and help “formulate strategies to combat this form of criminality”.
Needless to say, it is a huge undertaking.
While DN claims there are around 1.5 million legalised guns in Portugal, it says “estimates” point to “another 1.5 million” existing on the black market.
In 2015, for example, the PSP apprehended 8,747 guns and 88,121 munitions. That is an average of 24 guns and 241 munitions per day.
Lisbon and the surrounding tower-block neighbourhoods are hotbeds for the sale of “sawn-off shotguns and war weaponry”, adds the paper – saying it is a market that generates thousands of euros, spanning from simple 6.35 mm pistols (like the one a father used on his eight-year-old son in the capital on Saturday), to sawn-off shotguns, Kalashnikov rifles and Uzi machine guns.
“The illegal gun market in our country – hardly relevant when compared with other European nations – has old links with Spain,” the paper adds, “where there is a greater abundance of prohibited calibre weapons and where it is easy to go and collect these weapons.”
Starter pistols are not even illegal in Spain, and thus many dealers buy in Spain and sell here – without having to resort to the help of shipping companies.