ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Weapons retailers in the Kurdistan Region’s capital have called on the Kurdish government to allow them to establish proper shops to monitor the sale and purchase of arms directly.
Erbil has an unofficial market with dozens of pop-up shops selling, trading, and purchasing weapons from all around the world.
Officials say the shopkeepers have no official or legal documents to sell weapons and that the market lacks governmental oversight, but weapons retailers claim they do not sell to people who do not have official licenses to carry. They also stated that the Kurdish Asayish (Security) closely monitors the exchanges in the market.
Over 200 people rely on the arms market in Erbil to generate some revenue and cover their daily expenditures.
Prices in the market vary, with some weapons costing as little as $200 and can reach up to $2,000 depending on the gun and its state.
“The weapons we have in this market are mostly manufactured in Russia, Belgium, and the USA,” one of the shopkeepers told Kurdistan 24 on Sunday, adding that Glock Pistols are the most in demand.
“The majority of weapons we sell are Russian,” another retailer told Kurdistan 24. “The weapons are not directly sent to us from those countries, but eventually they end up here after being traded and moved around by others.”
He also mentioned that customers usually look to purchase lower-priced weapons.
The market is open for two hours, from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm. The shopkeepers are calling on the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to provide a locale for them to sell their weapons and directly monitor the exchanges, establishing a reliable legal framework for weapon owners and sellers and address security concerns in the community.
While unofficial and unsupervised, the market operates with a certain code of integrity, where shop owners refuse to sell to people who do not have a weapons’ license and are below the age of 20.
“Security officials are always with us and monitor our activities. We do not sell to those who are not Asayish or Peshmerga members. We sell weapons to people who need to be at least 20-years-old and have the necessary documents,” one gun retailer explained.
“If we don’t trust a buyer, even if he/she has appropriate documentation from the Interior Ministry, we will refuse to sell them any weapons and inform the Asayish about it.”
Erbil’s gun market is not the only one in the Kurdistan Region, but it is one of the most well-known spots to acquire weapons in the region.
Editing by Nadia Riva
(Additional reporting by Dena Fariqi)