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from Photographers' Blog:

A country armed to the teeth

Jihana, Yemen

By Khaled Abdullah

If you are looking for an AK-47, a sniper rifle or even an anti-aircraft gun, it takes only half-an-hour of shopping around in this arms market, one of Yemen's biggest weapons markets, to find one.
The market is located in Jihana, a village some 30 kilometers (18 miles) southeast of the Yemeni capital Sanaa.

Yemen is one of the countries most heavily armed with deadly weapons.

Although this is mainly a tribal society where tribes are armed to the teeth, there are still too many guns for sale in the country's robust arms markets, as if the entire population must be armed. "Here, you can get fully armed as you can be," Jihana arms dealer Mohammad Sharaf said. An AK-47 can cost between $700 and $1,700 depending on age, make and quality. The only man shop owners do not welcome is a photojournalist. Many of them believe that the more publicity their market gets the more government crackdown they receive.

"Please go away!" shouted one trader in Jihana. "We don't need more problems because of you mediamen!" shouted another. But some were happy to display their goods; machine guns, assault rifles and pistols to the camera.

In an attempt by the Yemeni government to control the arms trade, it launched a nationwide campaign in 2007 to close arms bazaars, including Jihana, and although police forced around 300 weapons shops in 18 arms bazaars to close, the shops were allowed to reopen just six months later.

from Photographers' Blog:

China’s last armed village

Basha village, China

By Jason Lee

It took more than 12 hours by plane and long-distance bus to travel from Beijing to what is believed to be the last community authorized by the Chinese government to keep guns – the village of Basha. It is in Congjiang county, a grand mountainous area of Southwestern China. The village is a relatively mysterious place to most people, even in China, mainly because of its remoteness and poor economy.

Upon my arrival I noticed instantly one of its unique privileges – the marvelous natural scenery. I didn't hear any gun shots at that moment, but I spontaneously set my cameras to silent mode, for fear of bothering the farmers working on the fields.

from Photographers' Blog:

In the shadow of Mexico’s guns

Mexico City, Mexico

By Edgard Garrido

Days before last Christmas, city authorities initiated a program of voluntary disarmament for citizens encouraging them to swap their pistols, revolvers, guns and the occasional 60mm mortar round for bicycles, tablets or cash. Thousands flocked to the swapping stations set up in different neighborhoods by the police and military.

Some weapons were destroyed on site but I wondered where the rest of the collected weapons would land. So, I decided to issue a formal request to the Mexican Secretariat of National Defense (SEDENA) asking if I could access their storage facilities to take pictures.

from Photographers' Blog:

Swiss code of arms

Geneva and Zurich, Switzerland

By Denis Balibouse

I have quite a simple relationship with firearms. I don’t like them: their power scares me.

Unlike most Swiss men of my age I did not take part in compulsory military service in the Swiss Army (thanks to a torn knee ligament that saved me from a possibly awkward session with the Army psychologist during the recruitment process).

from Full Focus:

Swiss guns

Swiss voters, backed by the government, rejected a proposal in 2011 to tighten the country's liberal fire arms laws. Citizens outside the military can apply for a permit to purchase up to three weapons from the age of 18 in a country where sharp shooting and hunting are popular sports. There is no national gun register but some estimates indicate that at least one in every three of Switzerland's 8 million inhabitants keeps a gun. Read an account from Switzerland-based photographers Denis Balibouse and Ruben Sprich here.

from Full Focus:

The hunting games

Photographer Michaela Rehle follows Ramona Pohl-Uebel, her father and one hundred other hunters as they take part in a driven hunt event at one of Germany's biggest military training grounds.

from Full Focus:

Shot in the murder capital

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

Photographer Jorge Cabrera spent time on patrol with local police in San Pedro Sula, which was named the world's most violent city for a second year in a row, as they arrived at the crime scenes of victims of gun violence. Jorge documented the city's busy emergency room and visited the morgue. San Pedro Sula, the country's second largest city after Tegucigalpa, has a homicide rate of 169 per 100,000 people. Lax laws allow civilians to own up to five personal guns, and arms trafficking has flooded the country with nearly 70% illegal firearms. Read Jorge's personal account here.

from Photographers' Blog:

Life and death in the murder capital

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

San Pedro Sula, Honduras

By Jorge Cabrera

“Come in if you would like to and try to leave when you still can.”

Some weeks ago, I went to cover a soccer match in San Pedro Sula, considered the industrial capital of Honduras. It also bears the less honorable title of being the most dangerous and violent city in the world.

San Pedro Sula, the country's second largest city after Tegucigalpa, has a homicide rate of 169 per 100,000 people and was named the world's most violent city for a second year in a row. Lax laws allow civilians to own up to five personal guns, and arms trafficking has flooded the country with nearly 70 percent illegal firearms. Eighty three percent of homicides are by firearm compared to 60 percent in the United States.

from Photographers' Blog:

Meet pistol-packing Judge Jimmy

Manila, Philippines

By Romeo Ranoco

Traditionally, Filipinos are gun lovers, particularly in the southern Philippines, where almost every household keeps a rifle or a pistol at home. I know someone who said "I can let go of my wife, but I can't live without my Armalite". Thus, I got excited when I was asked to do a gun culture picture story, focusing on a pistol-packing judge who helps train fellow magistrates and lawyers at a target range.

FULL FOCUS GALLERY: ARMED JUSTICE

When one talks about a pistol-packing judge, one person immediately comes to my mind, a legendary former police officer who traded his blue uniform for a black robe. Jaime “Jimmy” Santiago is a celebrity in his own right. The presiding judge of branch 3 of Manila’s Regional Trial Court, Jimmy was a police officer a quarter of a century ago. He rose to celebrity status when as a commander of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit in the Philippine capital city Manila, he rescued several victims and “neutralized” a total of six gunmen in several separate hostage-taking incidents. His exploits were eventually made into a full-length movie, entitled “SPO4 Santiago, Sharpshooter”.

from Full Focus:

Armed justice

Jaime 'Jimmy' Santiago, a former police officer who headed a special weapons and tactics (SWAT) unit, now a lower court judges in Manila, favours arming Filipino judges to protect themselves from disgruntled litigants who can't accept decisions and criminal syndicates whose members were sent to jail. There had been cases of shootings inside courtrooms. Photographer Bobby Ranoco spent time with Judge Jimmy inside his courtroom and at a firing range. Read Bobby's personal account here.

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