Bambang Soesatyo, the Speaker of the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR), has been pushing for regulations that would allow civilians to own and carry guns for self-defense. He claims that there is often confusion and misinterpretation among the police and civilian gun owners about when they can use their firearms.
Bamsoet, as he is popularly known, is also the chairperson of the Special Self-Defense Weapons Permit Holders Association (Perikhsa) and the advisor to the Indonesian Shooting and Hunting Sports Association (PB Perbakin). He says that the special regulations would clarify the rights and obligations of gun owners, as well as the procedure, ethics, and supervision of using firearms.
“[The legal ambiguity] has led to the criminalization of self-defense weapon permit holders,” he said in a statement, citing a case in which a gun owner was prosecuted for pulling out his weapon to protect himself from a mob beating.
“He merely cocked the gun and then put the weapon back in the holster.”
Bamsoet did not exactly just start out on this quest. In 2020, he stressed that he is not suggesting that anyone can just buy and carry a gun, and that gun ownership must follow the National Police Chief’s Regulation No.18/2015, which requires a series of stringent tests and training sessions for civilians who want to own guns.
Now, Bamsoet and Perikhsa say they have drafted a proposal for a Government Regulation (PP) in favor of self-defense weapon permits, which they have submitted to Minister of Law and Human Rights Yasonna Laoly. Yasonna happens to chair Perikhsa’s advisory board.
Indonesia has strict gun laws that limit the ownership and use of firearms by civilians. According to GunPolicy.org, a website that tracks global firearm statistics, as of 2017, there are only about 82,000 privately owned guns in Indonesia out of a population of 270 million. That means there are only 0.07 guns per 100 people, compared to 120.5 in the United States that same year.
However, there are still some challenges and risks related to gun violence in Indonesia. One is the leakage of guns from official sources, such as the police and the military, to the black market. Another is the potential for terrorist attacks using guns, as seen in the 2016 Jakarta bombings, which were claimed by Islamic State militants.
A proposal by some politicians to legalize gun ownership for civilians for self-defense purposes could increase the availability and misuse of guns in the country.
Should Indonesians be allowed to own guns for self-defense? Or is this a recipe for disaster? Let us know in the comments below or on our socials.