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Firearms licensing office shut down temporarily

By CYRUS OMBATI | Updated Sat, March 22nd 2014 at 00:00 GMT +3
Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo.  [PHOTO: FILE/STANDARD]

By CYRUS OMBATI

Nairobi, Kenya: The Chief Firearms Licensing office in Nairobi has been closed on a temporary basis.

Police seconded to the bureau were told to take leave until further notice.

The move came even as Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo and his deputy Grace Kaindi named Boniface Maingi as the new head of firearms licensing section.

The Chief Firearms Licensing officer Francis Wanjohi was moved to police headquarters amid protest from firearms dealers.

Mr Kimaiyo said they took the steps over a moratorium they put in place last May to stop issuing of guns to civilians.

Misuse of weapons

The moratorium is to enable them reform the firearms licensing section.

“We have not lifted the moratorium, which was put in place last year and the civilians seeking to be issued with guns will have to wait. It is for the good of the country,” said Kimaiyo.

 He added they are making several changes in the section to ensure only deserving cases are given permits to own weapons.

 The same moratorium applies to those who want to be dealers in the country.

 Kimaiyo did not reveal the new measures they intend to put in place to streamline the operations but said the repeal of the Firearms Act would enhance the management of the weapons at large.

There are about 10 firearm dealers in the country who issue guns to those with permits to own them.

 The moratorium was put in place after it emerged that there is no thorough vetting done before guns are issued to civilians.

CID Director Ndegwa Muhoro said the Government stopped issuing licenses to civilians to streamline the process.

“We put the moratorium in the issuance to enable us streamline operations in this area because of many issues,” said Muhoro.

Before the moratorium was issued last year in May, many licenses had been issued to civilians. There has been lobbying to lift the ban.

Officials there blamed the situation on the new Constitution and admitted a number of applicants had been given licences to own guns before being vetted as required by law.

Wanjohi said unlike in the past when applicants used to be vetted through a rigorous process, the situation changed when the provincial administration was phased out.

This raised questions as to whether some of the gun holders are illegally holding weapons and abusing them.

Wanjohi said there has been an increase in cases of misuse of firearms by those with permits, adding the punishment is lenient.

He recommended that firearm holders be forced to go through training before being licensed.


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