A mayor from a town in Northern Italy began setting up a local fund to help townspeople buy guns, the Local reported Wednesday. Mayor Gianluca Buonanno, a Northern League politician from the Piedmont region, said the fund will help the people of his town defend against home intruders.
"I want to increase the defense capability and security of my fellow citizens," said Buonanno, as reported by BBC, adding "I say better cemeteries full of criminals than empty prisons."
Buonanno's initiative with the gun fund appeared racially-charged to some members of Italian media, as the announcement came following the widely-covered death of a Romanian man killed by a retiree while he was attempting to burgle his house. The elderly Italian was charged with manslaughter, and many Northern League politicians took to Twitter and other forms of social media to voice their outrage.
The Northern League party has made gun ownership a central issue, turning it into a rallying cry for personal freedom and protection. Party leader Matteo Salvini wrote a Twitter post Monday stating his support for the retiree, calling the investigation "crazy."
Italy: Mayor sets up 'gun fund' for residents https://t.co/zKwyyDsMUI
— Italy News Daily (@ItalyNewsDaily) October 21, 2015
The fund would give interested townspeople 250 euros toward the purchase of a gun, which is around 30 percent of the price of a small firearm in Italy. Like most European countries, Italy has very strict gun laws surrounding background checks, registration and the right to carry.
A member of the far right-wing Northern League party, the mayor has made waves in Italy before for several controversial publicity stunts, particularly involving race. Buonanno once wore black-face makeup to a session of parliament in January 2014 while making an impassioned speech saying that only black people received social welfare benefits. The stunt outraged his fellow members of European parliament -- several of whom called it racist.
The mayor's latest initiative has been met with mixed support from the residents of his town, Borgosesia. The small northern territory only counts around 13,000 inhabitants, and many of them are farmers. “My dad has been a farmer all his life and has managed fine without a gun," Michele Scotti, who grew up there, told the Local. "What do the citizens of Borgosesia want with one?” she asked.