Small Arms Commission proposes a national arms control list

Accra – The Ghana National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons (NACSA) has submitted a National Arms Control List to the Ministry of the Interior, to control indiscriminate trade in firearms and other related materials.

The National Control List, upon approval, would ensure that certain dangerous items such as arms and ammunition, dual-use materials and chemicals such as Dynamites and Industrial Explosives, and dual-use devices such as Drones are monitored and regulated, to prevent them falling in the hands of criminals.

Mr Gyebi Asante, a Senior Programme Officer at the Commission, who told the Ghana News Agency in Accra, said while those devices, chemicals and materials are used for good purposes in the country, they could also be used to cause havoc in the country.

He explained that the dual-use materials and chemicals are mostly imported into the country by the mining companies for their operations, but some could end up in the hands of criminals for dangerous activities if not properly monitored and regulated.

He said that no individual or company was given authorisation to manufacture firearms and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the country.

He said that although there was information that two persons applied to the then Minister for the Interior in 2009 to obtain licences to produce firearms, their applications were not granted since there was no clear criteria, qualification and procedures in the law for production of arms in the country.

He said even if someone wants to secure licence to produce arms in commercial quantities locally, there should be proper governing structures and procedures that meet international standards and best practices so as to prevent abuses.

He believed that granting of licences for production of arms, if it would be done, should allow the activity to be carried out only in manufacturing and cottage industries rather than the typical traditional blacksmithing industry in Ghana which makes regulation very difficult.

He added that the Commission is mobilising blacksmiths into associations or cooperative societies so that their activities could be monitored closely to reduce the artisanal manufacture of arms in the country.

He mentioned the two penal sanctions regimes regulating the use of firearms in the country; the Arms and Ammunition Act 1972 (NRCD 9) and Criminal Offences Act 1960 (Act 29).

Under the Arms and Ammunition Act (Section 26), if someone is arrested in possession of firearms without lawful authority, the person could be sentenced to a maximum prison term of five years, or fined a maximum 1,000 penalty units, which is equivalent to GH?12,000.00 or both, but with no prescribed minimum sentence.

Meanwhile, under the Criminal Offences Act (Section 192), anyone arrested with illegal possession of firearms commits a first degree felony, which prescribes a minimum prison sentence of 10 years for the offender.

From what I have heard, if one is arrested with a single gun, the person is usually prosecuted under the Arms and Ammunition Act, but if the firearms are more than one, they are prosecuted under the Criminal and Offences Act, Mr. Asante added.

He, therefore, called for the harmonisation of the laws and review of the Legislation on Arms and Ammunition since there are a lot of gaps in the current legal regimes that hinder effective arms control as well as keeping up with societal dynamics and contemporary security trends.

Mr Asante said that the Police Service was mandated to register civil category small arms in the country, but the Commission complemented the Police’s efforts by engaging in public education and sensitisation to let Ghanaians know and understand the procedures involved in acquiring firearms for legitimate personal use as well as promote responsible gun ownership.

He added that the Commission also created awareness among Ghanaians on the dangers and security threats posed by the proliferation and misuse of small arms to the country’s peace and security, and Ghana’s fledgling democracy and socio-economic development.

He said the Commission educated the public on the laws regulating arms and ammunition in the country and the implications of possessing arms without authority.

Mr Asante said that the use of arms in conflicts or misunderstandings did not produce anything positive, but rather a cycle of revenge, protracted armed conflicts and the accompanying negative consequences.

I personally believe that we don’t need guns to resolve conflict. As long as we remain humans, there will be misunderstandings such as during elections, in land, chieftaincy and ethic matters, but we don’t need guns to settle them.

“What we rather need is dialogue and finding lasting solutions to those issues amicably, Mr Asante advised.

Source: Ghana News Agency