No nationwide weapons collections program planned for NL

An array of weaponry collected by Rotterdam district police during an amnesty period in early 2019
An array of weaponry collected by Rotterdam district police during an amnesty period in early 2019PolitiePolitie

Despite the success of a 2019 weapons collections program, where anyone with armaments can dispose of them no questions asked, authorities say they have no plans to roll out a nationwide version of the event, sources told broadcaster NOS.

A local version organized in Rotterdam last January and February was considered a success, with over 260 weapons and 650 kilograms of ammunition collected. The weapons included 60 firearms, 43 knives, and various other items like Samurai-style swords and brass knuckles, police said at the time.

Later in the year police in Helmond collected a further 20 guns and rifles, and this year Zaanstad authorities recovered 22 firearms and 175 other weapons, police records show. A similar program is running this week in the IJsselland police districts in the east of the Netherlands.

That type of piecemeal approach is what many hoped to avoid, and why there was majority support for a unified approach by police across the country in the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament. While MPs argued that a specific period covering the entire country could generate more awareness of the amnesty program, and increase its likelihood of success, police were not able to agree on a single period that worked for all districts.

“The recent problems with knives and other stabbing weapons justifies the need to invest heavily in order to remove all weapons from the street,” CDA parliamentarian Chris van Dam told broadcaster NOS. “An annual collection day offers good opportunities to increase and maintain attention on the great dangers posed by knives and guns.”

“The problem with weapons does not occur everywhere, and so it is mainly up to the local authority,” a police spokesperson countered. “Mayors and police can determine for themselves if they want this, and when it suits them.”

Though many of the weapons turned in to police were antiques and heirlooms, including items used by the Dutch Resistance in World War II, Rotterdam police said that there were also many weapons collected which could be used in the commission of a crime.