Foreigners 'Turning in Their Guns' Is Model for America, NBC Reporter Suggests

A Serbian policeman guards handed-over guns (REUTERS/Marko Djurica)
June 20, 2023

The Serbian government's recent crackdown on guns led many of the country's citizens to hand in their weapons. That should set an example for American gun policy, NBC News correspondent Richard Engel suggested Monday.

"All existing gun permits are under review," Engel reported on NBC's Today. "All sales of new guns of any type are banned for two years. Gun owners must submit to in-person psychological and background checks. And owning an illegal gun is punishable by up to 15 years in prison."

The restrictions, Engel said, have led many Serbians to start "turning in their guns voluntarily" to the government. The Serbian interior ministry's goal is to "take 90 percent of guns off the streets, soon," Engel reported.

In the United States, President Joe Biden has pushed expansive firearm regulations, saying in March that he will ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines "come hell or high water," the Washington Free Beacon reported. Biden in November said that he would also work to ban so-called semiautomatic weapons, which make up 50 percent of U.S. gun sales.

Serbia instituted the laws after two recent mass shootings—rare events in the small European country—resulted in the deaths of at least 17 people. The restrictions show that the Serbian government responds with "more than thoughts and prayers," Engel said, a reference to the left-wing talking point that offering condolences is equivalent to excusing gun violence.

In one section of the report, Engel tells a Serbian politician that "very little is done" about mass shootings in the United States. The politician responds by blaming "this big gun lobby and this big industry, which is behind it."

NBC did not delve into whether the new gun restrictions would have helped to avert Serbia's mass shootings. The country already has strict gun laws, banning citizens from owning guns unless they are over 18, pass repeated background checks, and have no criminal record. Citizens must also be able to prove they need the weapons for hunting, sport, or—in limited cases—self-defense, according to Serbia's 2015 gun law.

The first shooter, a 13-year-old boy, is below Serbia's age of criminal responsibility, NBC reported, while the second shooter, an adult man, used an automatic weapon, according to USA Today. Serbia already bans automatic weapons in nearly all cases, according to the 2015 law.