Safety of gun owners’ kin in the spotlight

Wednesday March 20 2019

firearm

The law empowers a licensing officer to confiscate a firearm as investigations into misuse by the holder continue. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

STELLA CHERONO
By STELLA CHERONO
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The hooting of vehicles and touts calling passengers was muted by a loud gunshot in one of the apartments. Everything came to a standstill.

Suddenly, fear turned into curiosity as neighbours and passers-by ventured into the house from where the gunshot sound had emanated.

At Constable Sammy Kiprop’s home, they discovered that the officer’s 10-year-old son had shot himself accidentally using his father’s official pistol — at Jericho. The officer was in the bathroom when the boy accessed the gun.

Later, as detectives wrapped up Sydney Saina on his last trip out of his father’s house, colleagues from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) were interrogating Constable Kiprop who, cowering against the wall, was recalling the events that led to the death of his son.

ACCIDENTAL SHOOTING

That was in 2017. Now, less than two years later, a city lawyer, Mr Assa Nyakundi, is in hospital nursing shock he claims to have suffered after he shot dead his son in a car last Sunday.

Mr Nyakundi told police that his Glock gun, registration number GUZ521, had accidentally discharged a bullet as he retrieved it from a pouch in his car to fasten it in its holster.

“He claimed that the firearm, which was loaded with 15 rounds of 9mm ammunition, accidentally discharged one round, hitting his son on the chest. He immediately rushed him to Agha Khan Hospital, where he was pronounced dead,” a police report seen by the Nation indicated.

Several other cases of accidental shootings have been reported in the country, raising concern about the safety of those close to holders of licensed guns.

Just last May, two police officers were seriously injured when a machine gun that one of them was servicing accidentally fired 40 bullets at a police station in Bodhai, Garissa County.

TRAGIC STORIES

Three months after the incident, another officer accidentally shot himself in the thigh while manning a roadblock along Juja Road, Nairobi. He was rushed to a Buruburu hospital, where he died.

In another incident, the husband of former Nairobi Woman Representative Rachel Shebesh shot himself slightly above the knee as he serviced his gun.

Mr Franklin Ambundo, 52, told police that he had accidentally shot himself using his licensed Glock 17 rifle at their home.

In another case, Mr Richard Alden, 53, a businessman from South Wales, was arrested and later released and vindicated of fatally shooting Grace Kinyanjui after it emerged that the firearm actually discharged as Ms Kinyanjui was holding it.

Mr Alden told the Sunday Times, after he was cleared of the charges, that he only erred by leaving a bullet inside his gun.

“There is an element of culpability in that — and I am not hiding from it. I am going to have to live with that for the rest of my life. There is a tragic story behind this,” the paper quoted him.

SAFETY

In all the above cases, the first person to be arrested and questioned was the owner of the gun.

The Firearms Act stipulates that the owner is in charge of keeping the weapon in safe custody so that it is not lost or stolen, “and is not at any time available to any person not lawfully entitled to possess the same”.

Section 18 of the Act states: “Any person who fails to comply with any of the provisions of this section shall be guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or to a fine not exceeding Sh10,000 or to both”.

The law empowers the licensing officer to confiscate a firearm as investigations continue.