Private gun holders to be vetted, issued with electronic identification card

Private gun holders to be vetted, issued with electronic identification card [Courtesy]

All licensed gun holders in the country are to undergo a vetting and re-registration exercise and be issued with an electronic identification document.

 During the exercise, those with licenses to own guns have to appear in person with their weapons before the Firearms Licensing Board.

A multi agency team is working on regulations to guide the process that will take 90 days effective December 18.

 The government wants to electronically register all licensed gun holders and also establish, maintain, and monitor a centralized Electronic Register of all private citizens holding firearms.

The team will also address ownership of armored vehicles, shooting ranges and that of rifles.

 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,” the ministry of interior said yesterday.

The board chaired by Charles Mukindia has set up a secretariat at their new Kileleshwa offices in readiness for the exercise.

 Those with illegal weapons will be encouraged to surrender them in the 90-day moratorium period, an official aware of the plans revealed.

 There are about 15,000 private gun owners in the country but officials believe almost 4,000 of them are fake.

This means if one is holding a license and fails to appear before the team for re-registration and be issued with an electronic card, the board may find reasons to cancel the permit.

 The ministry added 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.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i appointed new members of the Firearms Licensing Board days after disbanding the former team.

 Mukindia is the chairman and other members include David Kahinga, Jackson Kimutai Rotich, Vincent Wahoro, Nancy Kabete, Justine Odhiambo Khaduli and Lazarus Mbondo.

Claims of corruption in the process of issuance of guns to civilians formed the basis for to disband a body charged with the exercise.

Recently, there have been reports some gun holders are illegally having the weapons after bribing to get permits from the Chief Firearms Licensing Officer, prompting the new development.

Some firearm holders have discovered that the firearm certificates they hold belong to previous deceased licensed firearm holders and had been revoked. 

Matiang’i announced the disbandment of the Board citing corruption, incompetence and misbehavior that have been ailing the previous board.

 “We shall be issuing new certificates soon. Anyone not holding the new certificate, will be deemed to be holding an illegal firearm,” he noted last week.

The announcement comes a month after cancellation of 21 gun dealers and shooting ranges licenses where all licensed individual guns practice their skills have been suspended with immediate effect.

The Interior Ministry through the FLB is verifying all gun dealers and firearms licenses to confirm if they were regularly and genuinely issued.

Also under scrutiny are the regulations in place and whether they can be improved to regulate the growing sector.

New training and inductions are also being introduced as well as before new licenses are issued to all licensed firearm holders within one year.

All dealers must get new licenses. It is expected that the ministry will have fresh data on every gun dealer and gun owner in the country.