Gun licences 'dished out like sweets'

July 16, 2015, 7:30am

Gun licences 'dished out like sweets'

By Tuyeimo Haidula

POLICE inspector general Sebastian Ndeitunga yesterday said the force is working on a law that will tighten the possession and use of firearms by members of the public in the country.
Ndeitunga could not however give the exact date of implementation as they apparently just made recommendations, which still need to go through the legal drafters as well as Cabinet before being tabled in parliament.
The Namibian reported in April that police officers in the country only check the applicant's fingerprints and physically observe their appearance and ask routine questions on a form before issuing a gun licence. This was stated in the Ministry of Safety and Security's audit report on issuance and control of firearm licences carried out for the 2009/10-2011/12 financial years. 
The report was presented in parliament by the auditor general, Junias Kandjeke. It was commissioned after there was an outcry over the high number of gun-related deaths in the country.
“Then maybe the public will also be consulted for input,” Ndeitunga told The Namibian yesterday, adding that current requirements are too relaxed.
He said they are now reluctant to just dish out gun licences “like we are dishing out sweets”.
“We cannot just arm people like that. We want to strengthen the law to make it difficult for anyone to acquire a firearm. The most violent crimes are committed with firearms,” he said.
Ndeitunga admitted that it was easy to get a firearm, a process he says can also be exploited by criminals. He said they have identified some of the loopholes stated in the report and made them part of their recommendations.
The report states: “The ministry does not do any other personal clearance on the applicants, like for example conducting interviews with applicants' partners, relatives, friends and community members as well as getting input from church leaders and traditional leaders.”
Ndeitunga said even troublemakers are allowed access to guns. 
“We will have a process of conducting background checks. Get help from neighbours, relatives, church leaders and traditional leaders.” This, he said, will enable them an opportunity to issue licences to people who have a good standing in society. 
Illegal ownership 
The Namibian has also received complaints that some foreigners sell their firearms illegally when they go back to their countries of origin. This is said to result in ownership of unlicensed firearms by some individuals.
Ndeitunga confirmed this, saying the police are aware that some people own fire arms illegally. He said these people risk being prosecuted because no one is allowed to possess firearms without a valid licence. 
He also explained that foreigners can get export permits to take their guns with them if they so wish, and when their countries allow it. Alternatively they can sell the firearms to Namibians but through the correct channels and procedures.
“If you are caught with an illegal firearm, the police will arrest you together with the person who sold it to you. If they have returned to their country the buyer will be held solely responsible,” Ndeitunga asserted.
He advised Namibians to report any person they know who abuse their firearms such as threatening those around them, before the situation gets out of hand. 
He also urged couples to solve their problems without resorting to the use of violence.

The Namibian