THERE are almost 2.95 million weapons of all types in Spain, according to Interior Ministry estimates reported on in the wake of the New Zealand mosque shooting.
The figures, from the ministry’s latest Statistical Yearbook for 2017, showed a total of 127,224 licenses for handguns had been issued. A total of 66,874 of those were for use in sports and target practice while 21,030 were for Local Police officers.
There were 147,118 licenses issued for handguns and larger firearms such as rifles in the hands of National Police and Guardia Civil officers and army soldiers.
About 8,514 licensed handguns are in the hands of people who believe they face “special” risks which require them to arm themselves for protection. The Madrid Region had the highest number of licensed carriers at 2,426.
One such license holder is Santiago Abascal, the far-right Vox‘s leader who has sparked a debate on gun ownership following shootings in the US and New Zealand.
Abascal has said laws that state self-defence alone did not qualify as a “special” risk should be changed to allow more people in Spain to carry guns.
Representatives of Police and Guardia Civil officers said Abascal’s proposals were “nonsense” and would lead to a rise in violent crime.
Juan Fernandez, a Unified Association of the Guardia Civil (AUGC) spokesperson, said: “It is unnecessary as well as dangerous.”
EU figures show Spain has the fourth lowest murder rate per 100,000 people of any member country.