Gun holders have 3 months to undergo fresh vetting

Gun holders have 3 months to undergo fresh vetting

The government will tighten gun ownership laws as it seeks to to seal loopholes that have led to the misuse of firearms in the country.

For the next three months, the State will undertake a rigorous verification exercise of all firearms certificates in the country, a statement from the Interior Ministry said.

This means that those with illegal guns have a grace period allowing them to surrender the firearms and avoid prosecution.

Those who will not have had their guns vetted and certified will be considered invalid.

“After March 17, 2019 deadline, all firearms un-vetted certificates held by civilians will be considered expired and thus invalid. Any private citizen in possession of a firearm 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,” reads the statement.

It adds: “….deeply concerned by the procedural improprieties that have crept into the oversight of gun ownership and use by private citizens.”

The ministry cited lapses in the licensure of firearms dealers, civilian holders, and shooting range owners that 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 fuelled various acts of terrorism and crime such as robbery with violence, carjacking, poaching, and cattle rustling among others.”

Last week, the government appointed a 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.”

The Board is expected to establish, maintain, and monitor a centralised Electronic Register of all private citizens holding firearms.

The tighter laws include;

1. 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.

2. Anyone in illegal possession of any firearm must surrender it to the Government within the 90-day moratorium failure to which they will be met with the full force of law.

3. 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.

4. 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 the 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.

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