General News of 2014-05-20

Expert warns of looming armed conflict

A Small Arms and Light Weapons expert says there are too many illegal weapons in private hands in Ghana, which poses a threat to the country’s peace and a potential for armed conflict.
The expert warned that the danger associated with too many illegal weapons in private hands is that the day Ghana fails to successfully manage issues such as election disputes, disagreement over natural resource ownership and chieftaincy succession issues, armed conflict will explode.
John Pokoo, Programme Co-coordinator, Regional Small Arms and Light Weapons Training Programme at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center, disclosed this to The Finder in an exclusive interview.
He said for some reason, Ghana has peacefully managed the issues that can result in conflicts, but added that this should not be taken for granted since people in possession of weapons would not hesitate to use them under certain conditions.
“If you have weapons, the tendency is to avoid using peaceful means to address disagreement,” he warned.
For example, he said the rising incidence of people shooting partners over frivolous reasons such as being denied sex, is a demonstration of too many illegal weapons in private hands.
The West African Action Network on Small Arms estimates that over 80,000 illicit small arms are in the hands of civilians in Ghana and 80% of crimes are committed using locally manufactured guns.
Mr. Pokoo stated that a small arms baseline survey on Ghana conducted in 2004 identified around 2,000 blacksmith in Ghana.
The survey established that it takes about two weeks to manufacture one single barrel gun and much less for pistols and other types of small arms.
Given that gun manufacturing is a family business and that several parts of the weapons are produced from different sources and assembled together, the above calculation is silent on the actual number of hands that work on the manufacture of one gun.
However, the calculation shows that each blacksmith and his team are capable of producing an average of 25-26 guns a year.
This translates into 50,000-52,000 guns produced by 2,000 blacksmiths a year.
Source: The Finder
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