Controlling small arms and ammunitionBy Ghanaian Chronicle
4/26/2012 2:30:07 PM -
It is not at the alarm state yet. But, the disclosure that 56 percent of a total of 230,000 small arms manufactured in the country remains unlicensed, and in hands that could not be identified, pose a threat to the security of the state. It means that as many as 125,000 illicit guns are in the system without any means of tracking them.
In addition, there are other light weapons which might have trickled down from conflict areas like Cote d'Ivoire, Sierra Leone and Liberia. That is why the decision by the police to conduct random checks on people and areas suspected to be harbouring some of these weapons is welcome.
According to Chief Superintendent of Police Aboagye Yeboah, the police intend to conduct random searches as a means of recovering some of these dangerous weapons in the hands of unauthorised persons.
We are happy that the other day, the police managed to arrest some of these illicit arms that were being transported to Yendi, one of the nation's most notorious flash-points.
Obviously, there are more arms doing the rounds than the police or any authority in the country may know. With the biometric registration exercise recording so much violence, it is very necessary for the police to track down illegal arms in the system.
We recommend a tab on all blacksmiths who are capable of manufacturing arms. They must be made to register, and their end products policed. This country cannot pride itself as the beacon of peace in a sub-region of turbulence, when the police cannot keep a tab on arms and ammunition in the system.
The Chronicle is disappointed that the Ministry of Interior, which is mandated by law to register and license arms is unable to track down the whereabouts of arms manufactured locally. If the ministry could not police arms manufactured in this land of our birth, what is the guarantee that it would be able to monitor arms and ammunition smuggled in from some of the troubled spots around us?
We cannot be safe in this country, unless the police get to grips with the situation. The violence coming out of the various registration centres, as this nation prepares for the polls, should register on the authorities that all could not be well, especially, as the vote on December 7 draws nearer.
The Chronicle shares the view expressed by Mr. George Sarpong, Executive Secretary of the National Media Commission, who said at a forum on small arms in Accra recently, that it is the duty of the government to restrict the use of small arms and other weapons.
The Ghanaian authorities have the duty of ensuring that there are laws compelling those with small arms to indicate that they possess them, and for what use.
Penalties for the failure to draw officials' attention to the possession of arms should be a deterrent enough to make for full disclosure. With the elections not far away, we should endeavour to make it unrewarding for people to use the intimidating powers of the gun to cause mayhem.
We cannot fold our arms on the arms trade, and hope that unwarranted nationals would see reason and not plunge the whole nation into conflict, in the name of elections. We have a responsibility to ourselves to preserve the fragile peace we are enjoying.
We have no other home other than Ghana. That is why it is everybody's duty to ensure that the peace is not unnecessarily disturbed. We need to curb the proliferation of arms and ammunition. It is a duty we must be seen to be doing!