A stroll through a bustling underpass in the centre of Istanbul offers the chance to buy a range of everyday goods: cheap watches, kettles, $2 emergency umbrellas to ward off autumn showers. And replica AK-47 assault rifles.
While the rifles, and dozens of handguns displayed nearby, are imitations, they nevertheless stand out from the surrounding Karakoy stalls. And their prominent placement is perhaps a window into a deeply entrenched gun culture in Turkey that now kills more than 1,500 people a year.
This year alone at least 1,575 deaths have been reported in Turkey as a consequence of more than 20,000 incidents involving guns. And according to the latest report, there are an estimated 25 million privately owned firearms in Turkey in 2017, an increase of five million in a year.
It works out to one in every three households having a firearm of some sort. Out of these, 85 percent are said to be unregistered and unlicensed weapons.
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