Venezuela suspends gun imports for a year

March 5, 2012 at 10:55 AM

CARACAS, Venezuela, March 5 (UPI) -- The Venezuelan government has suspended gun imports for a year due to rising crime rates.

The ban includes the marketing of ammunition as officials attempt to reduce the nation's widespread violence. Venezuela's annual murder rate is 48 homicides for every 100,000 inhabitants, one of the Top 5 in the world.

"This is not just about imports but also about local gunsmiths, who will no longer be allowed to sell firearms," Venezuelan Interior and Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami was quoted in the Latin American Herald Tribune as saying.

He said, "No one is allowed to sell munitions."

The move, however, doesn't affect state-produced munitions.

The government said 98 percent of homicides in Venezuela involved a firearm with 63 percent of victims struck by more than five bullets.

In 2008 Venezuela began a joint venture with Russia to produce AK-103 assault rifle, an upgraded version of the AK-47 but the weapons remain solely for military use.

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