The dos and don’ts of gun-handling 

What you need to know:

  • The consequences of misuse of a gun are huge due to the associated risks/threats. A gun is supposed to be used against real threats, especially those involving armed persons. Politicians should restrain themselves and stay away from the gun. 

On the morning of September 5,  a video clip showed State minister for Labour Mwesigwa Rukutana grabbing a gun from a police officer before aiming it at people in a car. 

What followed is a long story. I review this safety and security incident by questioning and trying to answer to the question. This article tries to show what should be followed when one has or uses a firearm. 

Firearms have different sizes and they include pistols, AK47, machine guns, anti-aircraft guns, SAR, 12 gauge millimetre, etc. I will restrict this article to light weapons like pistols, AK47, hunting guns, SARs, etc, that are most commonly used guns in Uganda, including by security guards or individuals. AK47 guns are commonly used by the UPDF, police, prisons, and UWA. 

Any civilian in Uganda is allowed to own a gun, but they are not expected to own, keep, use, access, operate, and transport guns regardless of whether one is a minister, public official or a security officer.

Firearms Act 1970 Chapter 299, article II, clearly stipulates regulation on how to purchase, possess, manufacture and sale of firearms and ammunition and other transactions.

This act generally prohibits the purchase, possession, and use of firearm by unregistered and licensed personnel. Even when licensed and registered, you are supposed to only carry and use only the registered gun. In other words, if you are permitted to own and use pistol, you cannot use and carry AK47 of a colleague, relative, friend, etc, even if it belongs to your father.

The dos and don’ts of a gun:
A gun cannot be shared. A gun can only be in someone’s hand or armoury, not under the bed, kitchen, car, etc. A private gun owner must licence it every January 1. A DPC has a right to withdraw the gun if it is used wrongly. After withdraw, the gun will be sent to department of private security organisations at police headquarters.

During the licensing process, the gun owner presents the gun to armoury for safety check, servicing and repairs. Ammunition is checked to confirm their numbers and functionality. Any missing bullet is and must be accounted for.

When travelling out of the country, the gun holder is required to deposit their gun at the nearest police station for safe custody. Proof of custody is issued to the gunholder, which is then presented back to the armoury man on receipt of the gun. 

Guns can be inherited only after going through the application process, which is tedious and rigorous since it involves seven layer approval process, ( LC1,LC3,DPC,district security committee, police training officer, commissioner, PSO, IGP and finally, minister of Internal Affairs). After going through this process, the gun is submitted to Police Ballistic Department for marking and assigning a number.

Therefore, minister Rukutana had no reason to grab a gun from his police escort. I have seen his statement and that of his lawyers confirming that he didn’t shoot at anyone. But one of the unwritten rules in the army, for instance,  is that if you lose the gun, you will be arrested until it is found. If accidently the gun slid off the holder’s hands and fell, the gun holder is expected to fall on the ground without any support. What this means is that the gun must be secured. 

The consequences of misuse of a gun are huge due to the associated risks/threats. A gun is supposed to be used against real threats, especially those involving armed persons. Politicians should restrain themselves and stay away from the gun. 

Samson Tinka,
[email protected]

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