Police in Indonesia are pledging to crack down on illegal firearms following a recent spike in gun violence targeting law enforcement personnel, including the Tuesday (September 11th) killing of a Jakarta policeman.
"We will carry out raids specifically for firearms," Deputy National Police Chief Oegroseno told reporters last month. "We are increasing preparedness. So whoever is playing around with illegal firearms will face legal action."
Oegroseno urged regular people to work with police on the initiative. "Without getting some help from the public, this effort will take longer to reach success," he said.
The warning came after a series of drive-by shootings spread fear through society.
On July 27th, a traffic officer on duty in South Tangerang, near Jakarta, survived after being shot in the chest. On August 7th, a police officer in Cilandak, South Jakarta was shot dead as he drove to a mosque at dawn.
On August 13th, an assailant fired shots at the home of a member of the narcotics unit of the Jakarta Metro police, also in Tangerang.
On August 16th, three days after Oegroseno's comments, two policemen were shot dead at Pondek Aren police station in South Tangerang, near Jakarta.
Most recently, gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire on a policeman who was escorting a convoy of trucks through downtown Jakarta on Tuesday, bringing the total number of law enforcement officers slain in recent weeks to four.
State Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief Marciano Norman said the same group was likely responsible for all the shootings.
"I recommend, first, confiscating firearms from those who don't have the right to own them. The general public has a big role in the sweeping of illegal firearms, to give information," he told Pikiran Rakyat.
"Secondly, optimize security – whether it's the general public's security, or security of those who serve. Because those who serve keep the public safe, but they too must be protected."
Public supports move
Cilandak resident Arif Budiman Yususf told Khabar Southeast Asia he applauds the police efforts against illegal guns.
"This is a good effort to improve security. We know that illegal firearms not only cause violence against police, but are also involved in terrorism and political situations, especially when elections are approaching."
Arif recalled a July 14 incident in which three bullets pierced a car belonging to Fadil Muhammad, a member of the provincial legislature in East Aceh. The car was empty, parked outside the Aceh Party district headquarters in Simpang Ulin, at the time. The shooting notched up fears over the potential for violence in the lead up to Aceh elections next year.
"Owners of illegal guns should surrender the weapons to the authorities. If they do not, the police need to enforce the laws and take the weapons," said Adrianus Meliala, a criminologist at the University of Indonesia.
Adrianus also urged police to target places that make guns.
"I think with serious law enforcement, it will make our society safer. There is no doubt that the increasing violence in many regions is a reflection of the availability of illegal firearms on the grey market," said Jaelani Hasan, a 24-year-old student at the Paramadina University in Jakarta.
"Police raids are only a temporary solution. In the long term, besides law enforcement, we need to be aware of any suspicious acts around us. Illegal firearms transactions can happen anywhere and anytime. If we witness this, we should report it to the police immediately," he said.
Against Islamic teachings
Said Muhammad Syariffudin, an Islamic cleric and community leader in Wirogunan, Yogyakarta, urged people to remain calm and follow guidance from security authorities.
"We have had more than 11 gun shootings in Yogyakarta within a short period of time around Idul Fitri," he said.
"Whatever the motive of the shootings – terrorism, violence, or anything else – killing is against Islamic teaching. Therefore, we must remain vigilant and continue our commitment to abide by the teachings of Islam and be peaceful and loving."