Yemeni City Introduces Gun Control

    yemen gun shop

    An arms dealer displays a rifle in his shop in Jihana, about 30km east of Sanaa. (Reuters)

    The city of Mukalla, in war-torn Yemen, has introduced gun control measures. Rather than a blanket ban, the city has become a gun-free area. People wishing to enter the Mukalla must hand over their weapons at checkpoints on the edge of town.

    Mukalla, the capital of Hadramawt province on Yemen’s southern coast, was recaptured from Al-Qaeda in 2016 after a fierce battle. According to The Economist government troops now man the city’s weapon checkpoints, handing out tickets and storing the surrendered firearms in shipping containers.

    Yemen has an extremely strong culture of weapons ownership. “In Yemen, no matter if you’re rich or poor, you must have guns. Even if it’s just one piece,” Abdul Wahab al-Ammari, a tribal sheikh told the Atlantic in 2013. Five years later this continues to be true, according to the recent 2018 Small Arms Survey, released in June, estimates suggest that there are 14,859,000 firearms privately held by Yemeni civilians.

    DW News piece from 2009 discussing Yemeni gun culture:

    No other Yemeni city has attempted to set up gun control measures, Mukalla is an anomaly predominantly because of its population. The Hadhrami people, who inhabit the Hadramawt province, have historically been less interested in firearms than other surrounding tribes. A resident of Mukalla told The Economist that “in other places, manhood is proven by carrying weapons,” while in Mukalla the Hadhrami prefer to take tribal disputes, that might erupt into fighting in other regions, to court.

    When Yemen was formerly a British protectorate, known as the Aden Protectorate, the British government established the Hadhrami Bedouin Legion. The Legion, a sort of small local security force, was established in the late 1930s and with the help of the local sultans the region was the focus of colonial and administrative development which effectively pacified the region. Today, despite Yemen’s tumultuous history, the people of the Hadramawt province continue to be less interested in conflict and the Hadramis have welcomed the ban on firearms within the city limits. It remains to be seen how long and how effective Mukalla’s measures are.

    Sources: 1 2 3

    Matthew Moss

    Matthew Moss – Assistant Editor.

    Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written for a variety of publications in both the US and UK he also runs, a blog that explores the history, development and use of firearms. Matt is also co-founder of, a new video series on historically significant small arms.

    Reach Matt at: [email protected]