A study by the Government and the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey says Kenya is awash with small firearms with figures ranging from 680,000 to 530,000.
While this figure seems huge, we must remember that countries that have either been at war, or continue to suffer the effects of armed militancy surround Kenya.
As such, the flow of arms over our long and porous borders is a reality. Vast parts of Northern and North Eastern Kenya have no presence of State security personnel.
In these areas, mostly dominated by pastoralist communities, cattle rustling and general insecurity have encouraged the locals to arm themselves to their teeth, as they cannot rely on State security. The latter usually turns up after pillaging and murder has occurred.
Years of insecurity and civil war in Somalia is principally to blame for the influx of weapons, and is one reason the Government chose to send the Kenya Defence Force into the war-torn nation.
The most worrying thing is that disarmament programmes in areas like Mt Elgon and Rift Valley that are pre-election violence hotspots have failed to stem the tide.
In Mt Elgon District in Bungoma County where armed robberies are now prevalent, 11 of 86 people interviewed own guns, showing a direct correlation between the number of small firearms and insecurity.
Kenyans are feeling more insecure today than they did before 2007, more so as the General Election draws closer.
The profile of violent criminals has changed and most of them are now young, and trigger-happy. Violent crime has touched virtually everybody. According to the survey, about 20 per cent of households interviewed were victims of a crime or an act of violence over the year preceding the interviews; 40 per cent thought it likely that they would be a victim of violence or crime in the next year.
This is worrying indeed because it shows that despite the best efforts of the Kenya Police and other security agencies, violent crime remains a real threat in the minds of most Kenyans.
A significant number of the firearms used in crime are bought in Nairobi’s Eastleigh and come from the region’s bordering Somalia and Ethiopia.