At the beginning of the school day on May 4, 2023, a 13-year old unnamed shooter shot and killed eight students and a security guard at Vladislav Ribnikar Elementary School in Vračar, Serbia. The horrific events occurred when a teenager brought two registered firearms and three frames with 15 bullets each to the school, where he “immediately pulled the pistol out of his bag” and began to fire the weapons. Six more students and a teacher were injured in the mass shooting, with a few undergoing surgery or are currently in critical condition. As a result, public outrage rippled throughout the country with controversy around stricter gun laws and the prosecution of minors, and a crackdown on gun regulations throughout Serbia.
The suspect of the elementary school shooting is under the age of 14, which under Serbian law means that he cannot be held criminally responsible under the law. This raised concerns regarding laws about the age of criminal responsibility, with political officials such as President Aleksandar Vučić suggesting that the age be lowered to 12 years old. This would allow the suspect of the school shooting to be tried as an adult, which would drastically change the outcome for the suspect. It is unknown what will happen to the suspect in the future; however, the parents of the suspect were brought in and detained after the incident. In some cases, primary students in Serbia are not expelled for “serious violations”, which concerns the public as there may be a lack of consequences on the suspect due to his age.
Due to civil unrest and violence in the 1990s, Balkan countries,specifically Serbia, have a higher rate of unregistered weapons than other countries around the world. Right behind the United States and Montenegro, Serbia has 39.1 weapons per person in the country. After two deadly shootings in two days, the Serbian government enacted a one-month period where citizens could surrender their unregistered guns with zero penalties or charges pressed against them. Until Jun. 8, there is no consequence for those giving up their weapons as a crackdown on gun ownership following the mass shootings. Once the amnesty period ends, those who are caught with an unregistered gun face up to 15 years in prison if they are convicted. Currently, experts believe that there are still tens of thousands of weapons left unregistered and out of the reach of authorities from the Balkan wars.
School Shooting in Serbia Kills Eight