Inspector of Police Gen Kale Kayihura has said his office is getting overwhelmed by applications of individual Ugandans seeking ownership of private guns for their own protection.
The spiral follows the recent spate of gun murders, armed robberies and the terror threats that have held the nation on tenterhooks over the past weeks.
While Ugandans are frightened about their lives and deserve to be allowed to protect themselves, the IGP expressed concern that an increased number of privately owned firearms would worsen the current insecurity.
Gen Kayihura said Saturday that as a result, he and the National Security Council had resolved to slow down on issuance of gun licenses.
“We decided to slow it down, because people started using these guns to commit more crimes. You saw what happened with the MP Hon [Akbar] Godi, who used his own licensed gun to kill his own wife,” said Kayihura. “These cases kept increasing; every small argument, someone would just pull out the pistol…”
Recent estimates indicate that about 400,000 firearms are privately owned in Uganda both legally and illegally.
Currently the IGP, Gen Kayihura and the Minister of Internal Affairs have the sole discretion to issue out private gun licenses.
The Fire Arms Act, hands the chief licensing officers the discretion to refuse to issue a firearm certificate without assigning any reason for the refusal, unless he or she is satisfied that the person applying for the firearm certificate is merited.
Speaking during a weekly radio talk show this morning Gen Kayihura asked Parliament to weigh in with better regulations to streamline gun licensing, so that the general national security is not compromised.
“We want Parliament to guide us, so that we have a consensus, because at the end of the day, people must be protected. We need to have a discussion on this matter,” he said.
Government in 2011 introduced the Firearms, Ammunitions and Related Materials Bill which sought to harmonize all existing laws governing possession of guns, including the Firearms Act, 1970.
The 1970s Act for instance, spells out a paltry Shs 2000 fine for someone caught in possession of an illegal firearm or a jail sentence of only six months.
Meanwhile the IGP, noted that unchecked issuance of private guns is not Uganda’s only problem, adding that most of the firearms used in high profile crimes are stolen from national security agencies, while others are sneaked in from neighboring countries especially South Sudan.
Uganda recently witnessed a growing number of cases of murder by shooting which rose by 14 per cent last year, according to the Traffic and Road Safety report.
Gen Kayihura, said that Police had recently intensified efforts to retrieve the illegally owned guns especially in the capital Kampala.
“By the time State Prosecutor, Joan Kagezi was murdered we were on phase two of this Grand operation, and it is still ongoing, using our intelligence,” he noted.