Nairobi: Kenya has the largest number of guns in civilian hands in eastern Africa amid rising gun attacks while Rwanda has the least, a global survey shows. Data from Sidney-based GunPolicy.org, a website backed by the United Nations, puts the estimated number of guns possessed by Kenyan civilians at about 680,000, comprising licit and illicit firearms.
Tanzania has 550,000 guns in private hands, Uganda (400,000), Ethiopia (320,000), Burundi (100,000) and 58,000 for Rwanda. Kenyan security agencies have in the past announced plans to mop up illegal firearms seen to trigger a wave of violent crimes in the country.
“Reports suggest that the level of firearm and ammunition smuggling in Kenya is high,” the survey says, pointing to a huge cache of guns that have been acquired illegally. The study indicates that on average, one gun in the hands of every 100 civilians.
Over 6,500 gun holders are licensed in Kenya, according to Firearms Licensing Board – which registers civilian firearm holders, dealers and manufacturers of firearms. This means that majority of private guns are held illegally.
Applicants are vetted before they are issued a firearm to reduce chances of misuse. Increasing cases of break-ins, mugging and hijacking have pushed a number of Kenyans, especially the rich, to seek guns for personal security. Owning a gun without a firearm certificate attracts a jail term of not less than seven years and not more than 15 years, according to the Firearms Act.
Overall, Kenya is ranked at position 61 out of 178 global nations in private gun ownership. The US, which has the highest civilian gun attacks and deaths, comes top with over 310 million guns in civilian hands.
By Mike O’mera www.tanzanianzima.com