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General News Thu, 5 Sep 2019

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Police killings: We need stricter gun laws – Center for Defence and Security

The Center for Defence and Security has called on government to expedite action on reviewing the Arms and Ammunitions Act, 1972, introduce stricter laws on gun importation, gun distribution and civilian gun ownership.

“This will make our gun laws compliance with contemporary laws and international treaties that Ghana is party to such as the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT),” the Center said in a press statement Tuesday.

According to the Center, the recent killing of five police officers, and the violent killings of citizens in recent past brought into sharp focus the problem of guns in wide circulations in the country and the weak gun laws and non-existent regulatory framework for effective control of gun in the country.

It has therefore asked Government to prioritize the establishment of an oversight body such as “Small Arms Regulatory Authority” with mandate to enforce regulations on gun importation, gun permits and licensing regimes.

“The regulator will also be responsible for approving the suitability of persons who wish to possess firearm. Their suitability should include clean criminal background, psychological and psychiatric competences"

“Additionally, government in collaboration with stakeholders should commence aggressive programmes to retrieve, seize and confiscate illicit weapons in circulation to reduce violent crimes,” the Center noted.

Below is the full statement

INTRODUCE STRICT GUN LAWS TO CURB VIOLENT CRIMES

The recent killing of five police officers and the violent killings of citizens in recent past bring into sharp focus the problem of guns in wide circulations in the country and the weak gun laws and non-existent regulatory framework for effective control of gun in the country.

These and other violent crimes are facilitated by illicit firearms thereby making it nearly impossible to trace their source and ownership when used to commit crimes. The ease with which these guns are obtained makes a case for stronger laws and effective institutions to curb their spread. It is also an established fact that Ghana has earned the reputation in the sub-region as a transit point for the movement of illicit weapons.

It is therefore not surprising that in the recent and previous killings of police officers, their AK47 service-rifles were stolen. AK47 rifle is a “hot-cake” on the sub-regional black market with prices ranging between GHC7000 to GHC8000. With this demand, criminals may go great length to take possession of these rifles thereby putting the lives of our hardworking police officers in perilous way.

In addition to this situation is the increasing phenomenon of armed robberies in Ghana since 2016, through 2017, 2018 and the first half of 2019. Data from the Ghana Police Service indicates 1397 cases of armed robbery were recorded in 2016, 1772 armed robbery cases were recorded in 2017. Between June and December 2018, more than 1100 armed robbery cases were recorded and for the same period (January and June 2019), 868 armed robberies were recorded. The guns in circulation fuel criminal activities. There is urgent need to introduce strict gun laws and strong regulatory institution to curb the proliferation of small arms and crime in the country.

There is no reliable data on the actual number of fire arms in circulation in Ghana. A baseline study in 2014 by the Ghana National Commission of Small Arms (GNCSA) stated that 2.3 million arms are in the hands of adult civilians. With this number, only 53% are registered with 47% unaccounted for. Assessment of the registered guns in Ghana revealed a disturbing situation where the licenses of majority of registered guns are not renewed annually as mandated by law. In view of these developments, Centre for Defence and Security makes the following proposals:

Policy Proposals

Government should expedite action on reviewing the Arms and Ammunitions Act, 1972 and introduce stricter laws on gun importation, gun distribution and civilian gun ownership. This will make our gun laws compliance with contemporary laws and international treaties that Ghana is party to such as the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).

Government should prioritize the establishment of an oversight body such as “Small Arms Regulatory Authority” with mandate to enforce regulations on gun importation, gun permits and licensing regimes. The regulator will also be responsible for approving the suitability of persons who wish to possess firearm. Their suitability should include clean criminal background, psychological and psychiatric competences.

Additionally, government in collaboration with stakeholders should commence aggressive programmes to retrieve, seize and confiscate illicit weapons in circulation to reduce violent crimes.

SIGNED

Yaro Kasambata

Executive Director

Source: Starr FM

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