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Tough laws to curb gun crime

Sunday May 12 2013

PHOTO | FILE Turkana herders and the police after 100 raiders who stole 7,000 sheep and goats were repulsed following a fierce gunfight. A new law seeks to reduce the number of illegal guns in Kenya.
PHOTO | FILE Turkana herders and the police after 100 raiders who stole 7,000 sheep and goats were repulsed following a fierce gunfight. A new law seeks to reduce the number of illegal guns in Kenya.
Rising insecurity puts capability of Kenya's police force into question
By ANGIRA ZADOCK [email protected]

Those found in illegal possession of guns will be jailed for 20 years.

And people supplying firearms in areas of conflict could be jailed for life.

These are some of the tough new laws proposed to deal with rising gun crimes in the country.

The amendments in a Bill that also seeks to remove the function of issuing firearms to civilian from the police department to a board whose members will be drawn from the Kenya Defence Forces, Kenya Police Service, National Intelligence Service, Kenya Ordinance Factory, and the National Focal Point.

The process of acquiring a civilian firearm will be thoroughly vetted, and those who give false information while applying for a firearm may face a jail term of five years and a fine of not more than Sh5 million or both.

There have been cases of holders misusing their firearms when drunk. The Bill proposes a fine of Sh5 million or imprisonment for seven years for anyone who misuses his firearm while under the influence of alcohol. However, under the Firearms Act, any person who is drunk or who behaves in a disorderly manner while carrying a firearm is only liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or to a fine not exceeding Sh10,000 or to both.

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Losing a firearm by reason of recklessness or negligence will earn one imprisonment of seven years or a fine of Sh10 million, while failure to secure the firearm so that they do not constitute a threat to the public or occasion injury to a third party may earn one imprisonment for a term not less than 18 months and a fine of Sh500,000.

The Small Arms and Light Weapons Management and Control Bill replaces the Firearms Act, Chapter 114 of Laws of Kenya. It generally provides for stiffer penalties and also combines several disjointed pieces of legislation regarding firearms. Anybody who lends his or her firearm could be fined Sh10 million and a seven-year imprisonment.

The punishments for those who manufacture arms illegally have also been enhanced to five years and a fine of Sh5 million.

The Bill has borrowed from what relates to the Small Arms in the UN’s Arms Trade Treaty, the Prisons Act, the Kenya Wildlife Act, Penal Act, Criminal Procedure Code, and the Firearms Act.

The Bill was drafted by the Kenya Law Reform, the State Law Office, the office of the DPP, National Police Service, and the civil society.