By Taddeo Bwambale
THE government is drafting a Bill to control possession of firearms held by security agencies and civilians.The Firearms, Ammunitions and Related Materials Bill, seeks to harmonise all existing laws governing possession of guns, including the Firearms Act, 1970.
The Act only regulates ownership of firearms held by individuals, while those held by the police and security agencies are governed under separate laws.
Under the new licensing system, the Government will recall all guns held by individuals, who will have to reapply for new firearm certificates. It also provides for more stringent criteria for issuing firearms to civilians.
Anthony Nakhaima, a legal officer at the National Focal Point on Small Arms said the current law was obsolete and does not cover new crimes related to use of firearms.
“The law, for instance, does not consider private security organisations which cropped up in the 1990s, and the penalties specified are less deterrent,” Nakhaima said.
He was presenting a paper on the effects of small arms in society, at a workshop for detectives from security agencies in Wakiso on Friday.
Section (3) of the Firearms Act, states that no person shall purchase, acquire or have in his or her possession any firearm or ammunition unless he or she holds a valid firearm certificate.
However, violation of the law attracts a jail term of not more than six months or a fine not exceeding two thousand shillings or to both.
The UN Programme of Action and the Nairobi Protocol require states to put in place measures to prevent, combat and eradicate the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.
Some of the measures include toughening laws against illegal guns, marking of firearms and establishing an electronic firearms registry.