Civilian gun ownership on rise

WINDHOEK- The number of legally held guns in the country has increased significantly in the last thirteen years, with data revealed by the Deputy Minister of Safety and Security showing that there are currently 210 000 licensed firearms across the country.

The number has rocket by 46.3 percent since 2004 when 97.262 were held by householders. This means in 2004, there were around 5.04 firearms per 100 person compared to nine licenced firearms per 100 person today.

Introducing and motivating the Arms and Ammunition Amendment Bill in Parliament on Wednesday, Deputy Minister of Safety and Security, Daniel Kashikola told lawmakers that the mechanism of firearms control, particularly the applications for licence to possess firearms have been identified as the main setback why so many firearm licences were issued to people who are possibly not fit to possess firearms.

To be specific, the Performance Audit Report on the issuance and control of firearm licences in Namibia presented by Auditor General to Parliament recommended to our ministry to develop a policy to determine the competency and fitness level of firearm owners prior to the insurance of licences, a subject which can no longer be prolonged, he said.

The deputy minister said during the third quarter of 2018/19, the ministry dealt with 4 870 applications to possess firearms, a slight decrease compared to the period of 2017/18 which was 5 424.

It was observed with concern that 50 percent of the applications were for handguns (pistol and revolvers) with the justification for the demand of handguns being self-defence, Kashikola said, adding that there is a need to improve on arms and ammunition control mechanisms by promulgating enabling legislations.

Also, Kashikola told lawmakers that cases of stolen or lost firearms have increased at an alarming rate with 80 percent of those reported stolen or lost firearms being handguns.

The deputy minister called on all persons in Namibia aspiring to either possess a firearm, trade in firearm, manufacturing firearms or to carry on business as a gunsmith to be competence-tested by an accredited training facility.

The idea behind the competency is to ensure that only those people who are competent of handling and/or dealing with a firearm will be issued with a firearm licence, he said.

It is the sifting mesh that separates course from finer materials and allow the authorities to maintain a manageable database, he added.

The Bill tabled by Kashikola is aimed at amending the Arms and Ammunition Act, (Act 7 of 1996) so as to provide certain definition; for renewal of licence to possess firearm; for devices not regarded as firearms; for competence testing and competency certificate; for firearm free zones, for disposal of firearms in case of death, inherited firearms and winding up of business; for the use of firearms in theatre and cinema; for state owned firearms; for brokering and to provide for incidental matters.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia