In the wake of last week’s terrorist attack on Dusit hotel, Nairobi, discourse has emerged on whether more civilians and even security guards should be licensed to carry firearms.
This debate raises salient points from proponents and opponents. While both sides agree that it might not offer a permanent solution in the war against terrorism, they also agree it could easily backfire, taking more lives than it is meant to protect.
As matters stand, the Government, given its history of poor record keeping and graft, has been unable to even control the few guns out there.
If indeed guns in the hands of civilians would translate into better security, then regions where 16-year-olds graze their cattle sporting AK 47 rifles slung casually over their shoulders would not be the killing fields that they are.
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Clearly, from last week’s tragic events, the real heroes and heroines are ordinary Kenyans armed with only two weapons; an alert mind and a mobile phone. Unencumbered by the lack of guns, they helped police make a breakthrough in unmasking the faces behind the attack.
Indeed, an alert man noticed that the car shown on TV as having ferried terrorists to Dusit bore similar registration with one he had seen leave a gated estate in Kiambu and called the police. The information provided the breakthrough in identifying the mastermind of the attack and his accomplices.
In Mandera, alert couriers noticed a package sent from Eastleigh, Nairobi, had not been collected and alerted the police.
It turned out the package was sent by the bride to one of the Dusit hotel attackers. These incidences prove that we don’t need to arm every Kenyan to fight terrorism. All we need is an open, fast and effective communication channel between the ordinary mwananchi and the police.
This, and a sense of mutual trust where the police do not treat every Kenyan as a suspect, especially those who report crime. Now that Police have released pictures of six suspects believed to be part of the network that executed last week’s attack, this mutual trust is about to be put to the test.
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It is now clear the average terrorist lives among us. As such, we must make it our mission to help hunt for these suspects by ensuring they have nowhere to hide. And when we find them, let us do the right thing alert the nearest security officer.