Civilians to submit guns for marking to reduce illicit arms trade and violence (June 17)

Civilians who possess guns will now be expected to submit them for marking as part of reforms to reduce illicit arms trade and gun violence in Ghana, the Ministry of the Interior has announced.

This follows the marking of all military guns by the National Small Arms Commission (NSAC) as part of an ECOWAS Protocol.
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“The weapon marking exercise would be extended to civilian gun owners to facilitate easy identification of weapons when they are used in the commission of crimes and when they get missing. This would enhance faster investigation by the police because if a weapon is used, it should be possible to trace it to the owner and that should help us solve crimes easily,” the Interior Minister, Mr Ambrose Dery, said during a familiarisation tour of the National Small Arms Commission (NSAC) in Accra Friday.
Last year, the NSAC estimated that there were 2.3 million weapons in civilian hands in Ghana, with only 1.2 million of that number having been registered.
Government efforts
Key among the government’s efforts to tackle the proliferation of small arms are the tightening of domestic controls in order to prevent small arms from getting into wrong hands; strengthening of the NSAC; tightening security at national armouries; enhancing weapon marking and tracing and increasing intelligence gathering to enhance the work of the security agencies.
“To ensure the security of government weapons and weapons accountability, the government will see to the marking of all weapons in the custody of the security agencies. We know that some are either misapplied by the security men or even sold out,” Mr Dery said.
Dealing with arms
According to experts, the illicit trade in arms and light weapons have not only led to the proliferation of conflicts in most countries, including Ghana, but also the illicit transfer, storage, diversion and misuse of small arms and their ammunition, which are major contributors to pre and post-election-related armed conflicts in most parts of the world.
In the last few years, the security agencies in Ghana have arrested a number of arms smugglers.
The Minister of Interior said the government would promote a collaboration between the NSAC and the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority to curb the illegal gun trade across the country’s borders.
Marking weapon
In a speech read on his behalf, the Executive Secretary of the commission, Mr Jones Borteye Applerh, said the commission had been able to acquire two weapon marking machines and trained officers across the security agencies to mark weapons of the “state with unique codes agreed upon by all ECOWAS member states.”
He said the commission had been able to mark all small arms and light weapons with the military at Burma Camp in Accra.
“As part of efforts to prevent the smuggling of weapons in the country, the commission collaborated and continues to build the capacity of border control officials to enable them to detect and arrest criminals who may be attempting to smuggle weapons into the country. The activity was intensified at the height of the Ivorian crisis,” he added.

Writer’s email: seth.bokpe@graphic.com.gh

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