NAIROBI,KENYA, DECEMBER 10 —The Kenyan government will from next week Monday (December 17) commence a three months rigorous verification exercise of all firearms certificates in the country, as it moves to tame misuse of fire arms while cleaning the public off illegal arms.
A moratorium for mandatory vetting of civilians firearms holders has been placed through the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government.
“Effective December 17, 2018, the Board (Firearms Licensing Board) will begin a 90-day rigorous verification exercise of all firearms certificates in the country in full exercise of its reasonable discretion and mandate,” the state said in a notice.
According to the ministry, the government is deeply concerned by the procedural improprieties that have crept into the oversight of gun ownership and use by private citizens.
Some lapses in the licensing of firearms dealers, civilian holders, and shooting range owners have led to the illegal possession, transfer, misuse, and trafficking of such weapons thereby posing major threats to national and regional security.
“It goes without saying that this dangerous trend has fueled various acts of terrorism and crime such as robbery with violence, carjacking, poaching, and cattle rustling among others,” the ministry said.
The government has taken drastic measures, including the appointment and operationalization of the new team to the Firearms Licensing Board (FLB) with a view to mopping up a long history of irregularities in the certification of firearms ownership and use by private citizens.
Further to the vetting, the Board will also establish, maintain, and monitor a centralized electronic register of all private citizens holding firearms.
Things to note
- All civilian firearms holders must appear in person before the Firearms Licensing Board(FLB) for mandatory vetting with a view to certifying their suitability to own guns. They must also avail their weapons for review and certificates for authentication.Upon qualification, they will be issued with new smart licenses.
- Anyone in illegal possession of any fire arm must surrender it to the Government within the 90-day moratorium failure to which they will be met with the full force of law.
- Any civilian in possession of any prohibited firearm must surrender it to the Government within this period notwithstanding the authenticity of the licence.
Prohibited firearms range from automatic/semi-automatic self-loading military assault rifles to guns that fall outside the functioning cycle described in the Firearms Act.
They include G3, AK-47, M16 rifle, Uzi, Sterling-Patchett MK5, CZ Scorpion Evo 3, and MP5 among others.
“If in doubt about a specific weapon,the holder should seek advice from the nearest police station before the expiry of the respite period,” the government has advised.
“All preferential certifications and special considerations that might have been accorded earlier for specific civilian firearms holders under whichever circumstances are hereby abrogated with an immediate effect.”
Only police officers under the National Police Service (NPS), the military personnel under the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), and officers working under the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and members of other security agencies will be exempted from this vetting exercise.
After March 17, 2019 deadline, all fire arms un-vetted certificates held by civilians will be considered expired and thus invalid.
Any private citizen in possession of a fire arm or ammunition without certification under the new regime will be deemed to have acquired it illegally, a crime punishable by imprisonment and other penalties provided for in the Firearms Act.
The government allows police reservists(mostly ordinary citizens) to hold guns in specific regions in the country to support government security measures.
However, the state has expressed concerns over persons masquerading as such officers to perpetrate crimes.
“In as much as we acknowledge the immense contribution of the National Police Reservists (NPRs) to policing in their respective areas of jurisdiction, we are aware that some people are now masquerading as such officers to perpetrate crimes. For this reason, the Inspector General of the National Police will oversee the vetting and auditing of all NPRs,” the CS Fred Matiang’i led ministry said.
This is with a view to creating a new data base of genuine officers for better management and coordination of security operations, the CS’s office said in a statement.
Civilians who wish to legally own a fire arm are advised to exercise due diligence and submit to the cross-checks by the Firearms Licensing Board without involving any intermediary.
According to the ministry, the fore going measures have been taken to tame irregularities in firearms ownership by private citizens in the best interest of the country and the region.
The government expects “maximum cooperation” during the exercise.