Government launches new gun policy
Posted Monday, January 30 2012 at 00:00
In its efforts to curb the abundance and abuse of small and light weapons, the government has launched a new policy on firearms and ammunition.
The policy calls for a new legal regime to oversee the acquisition, use and storage of firearms.
The policy was unveiled last week by the Uganda National Focal Point on Small Arms and Light Weapons, a department in the Ministry of Internal Affairs that was created in 2003 to handle cases of illicit small arms.
The policy calls for a new law to replace the 1970 Firearms Act, which is deemed not to go far enough in monitoring gun acquisition for instance.
The proposed new law, which is currently being drafted, will for example, require people interested in owning a firearm to go through two forms of tests.
One will check for the applicant’s theoretical knowledge of the laws overseeing firearms while another will check for their physical ability to use, carry and store firearms. They will also have to complete a training course on handling and use of guns.
The policy also allows for the trade of gunsmiths. These will be allowed to assemble, repair, refurbish, customise, modify or even deactivate firearms but not to manufacture. They will be required to have a gunsmith’s licence before starting their trade and will also be limited only to working on firearms licensed to civilians.
The policy proposes that public areas like hospitals, schools, theatres, museums, entertainment venues be declared firearm-free areas, with an exemption of law enforcement officers who are on duty. Any individual or institution should also be able to declare their premises as fire-arm free.
This report came a week after Santos Komakech Makmot, a bodyguard of the Kampala Capital City Authority Director of Physical Planning, Mr George Agaba, shot dead one person at Port Bell Luzira and injured three others during an eviction. It raised the concern over who is allowed to access a gun in Uganda.
In a speech read by Ms Josephine Wasike, an undersectary at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the state minister, Mr James Baba, warned that firearms had become an attractive tool of violence because they were cheap and are easily concealable. He said firearms were responsible for 50 per cent of crime-related deaths.