The government has announced that a 90-day rigorous verification of all firearm certificates in Kenya will begin on December 17.
The exercise will be carried out by the Firearms Licensing Board (FLB), which all also "establish, maintain and monitor a centralised electronic register of all private citizens holding firearms".
In a statement on December 5, the Interior ministry, headed by Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i, noted irregularities in the oversight of gun ownership and use by private citizens.
It cited lapses in the licensing of civilians, dealers and shooting range owners, that in turn leads to illegal possession, misuse, transfer and trafficking of these weapons.
"It goes without saying that this dangerous trend has fuelled various acts of terrorism and crimes as robberies with violence, carjacking, poaching and cattle rustling," the ministry said.
It added, "The measures have been taken to tame irregularities in firearms ownership by private citizens in the best interest of the country and the region."
During the moratorium, all civilian firearm holders will be required to appear before the FLB in person for a check of their suitability to have the weapons.
They are required to present the weapons and certificates for review.
"Upon qualification, they will be issued with new smart licences," the statement stated.
People owning firearms illegally were asked to surrender them before the moratorium ends on March 17, failure of which they will be punished in line with the law.
The statement 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."
Individuals will prohibited firearms must also give them up regardless of the legitimacy of their licences.
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 G3s, AK-47s, M16 rifles, Uzis, Sterling-Patchett MK5s, CZ Scorpion Evo 3s and MP5s, the ministry said.
The government said that only officers in the National Police Service and Kenya Wildlife Service, military personnel in the Kenya Defence Forces and members of other security agencies will be exempted from the vetting.
The ministry warned that after the deadline, the firearm certificates owned by people who will not have been vetted will be considered to have expired and therefore invalid.
"Any private citizen in possession of a firearm or ammunition without certification under the new regime will be deemed to have acquired it illegally, a crime punishable by imprisonment and other penalties provided for in the Firearms Act."
Regarding the perpetration of crimes by people masquerading as police officers and National Police Reservists, the ministry said the inspector general of police will oversee the vetting and auditing of all of officers in this category, the goal being the creation of a new database.