GIOVENTU » Is Italy turning more aggressive and violent?

Is Italy turning more aggressive and violent?

The now ruling north league party which is the junior partner in Italy's governing coalition has proposed that individuals should be allowed to shoot anyone who enters their home, even in the absence of a clear physical threat. Almost a decade earlier in 2006, the party introduced a “legitimate defence” bill, permitting the use of knives or guns in order to protect lives or belongings if these were threatened in their home or workplace.

The reform, passed by Italian parliament, applied only if there was danger of aggression and the attacker showed no signs of backing down. In spring 2017 Italy's upper house of parliament voted to extend the law to include any night-time break-in, or a robbery attempt involving threats or violence to people or things. This means people would no longer have the necessity to prove that they feared for their lives. The amendment still needs approval from the Italian Senate before becoming law.

A recent survey shows a surprising inclination towards gun possession. the latest research carried out by social studies institute Censis and private security sector organization Federsicurezza found that 39 percent of Italians were in favour of loosening laws on owning guns for self-defence. If in 2015 people supporting gun ownership represented a quarter of Italians, now they are more than a third. People with a low level of education and the elderly were more incline towards gun possession. The percentage was 51 percent among respondents who hadn't completed high school and 41 percent for the over-65s. However, the number of Italians with guns is rising: there were a total of 1,398,920 gun permits in Italy in 2017, an increase of nearly 14 percent in the last year. Including specialist licences for trap shooting and other sports, about 4.5 million Italians have a gun in the house.

Italy has currently strict rules on guns possession. Anyone who wants to buy a gun must be over 18, have a clean criminal record, be certified by a shooting range and attest that they don't have mental health or addiction problems. Moreover, guns must be reported to a police station after purchase and an extra permit is needed for public carrying.

Why are Italians wishing to arm themselves?

Crime in Italy is actually decreasing, according to the figures gathered by Censis. Some 2.2 million crimes were reported in Italy last year, a decline of 10 percent on the previous year. Murders have decreased by 43 percent since 2008 and robberies by 38 percent. Despite all this, fear of crime is on the increase.  Around one in three Italians believe they live in an area at risk of crime, according to figures released by national statistics office Istat, an increase of nearly 12 percent from the last survey carried out in 2008-9. Nearly 28 percent said they didn't feel safe going out alone in the dark, while 38 percent said that concern about crime affected the way they lived their lives.

30 percent of all offences is committed in Italy’s biggest cities, Milan, Rome, Turin and Naples.

The most shocking data is that Italy has the highest number of gun homicides among the G8 countries and is difficult to find data on exactly how many firearms there are in the country. One of few comprehensive studies that takes into account both legal and illegal ownership of guns is the Small Arms Survey carried out in 2007 according to which ten million firearms were owned in Italy at the time.

This might be due to the fact that despite strict regulations on gun-ownership, several investigations by Italian media, including by Rai, Panorama and La Stampa, have found incidences of people applying for a hunting licence when actually they want the weapon for self-defence.

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