Ghana’s biting headache of small arms proliferation

Small arms
Small arms

Isolated and uncoordinated shooting incidents across Ghana have claimed innocent lives, stoking fears the West African country could be heading for bigger troubles.

While some of these shootings are purely accidental, others have come from armed robbers and serial killers who have shot and maimed or killed their victims.

A recent incident was between Richard Yaw Boadi, a 32-year-old mechanic and Nana Frimpong in front of a garage at Alajo, a suburb of Accra.

Frimpong, who had apparently obstructed vehicle movements at a garage, had been asked by Boadi to park properly to make room for other vehicles.

However, Frimpong refused and fired a gun that hit Boadi in the stomach. Boadi died two days later after being hospitalized.

The number of such incidents is increasing and causing headaches for the country’s Small Arms Commission that has sought to control the proliferation of small arms in the hands of individuals.

Programs Director at the Commission, Johnson Asante Twum, while commenting on the issue, explained that individuals needed to go through “a certain regime that will tell him or her when and how to use that weapon.”

“As it is now, if they just check your background and you pass per whatever criteria that you don’t have any history of violence, not a temperamental person and all that, the police will have no reason to deny you,” He told local radio network, Joy FM recently.

Twum insisted that further checks ought to be instituted to ensure that individuals who applied for arms were screened properly.

He suggested that tighter measures be put in place to ensure that illegal small arms are removed from the system, as they pose a serious threat to the security of the country.

Last year, before the general election on December 7, Ghana introduced tighter measures to check the proliferation of weapons in the country.

The ministry of the Interior, in collaboration with the Small Arms Commission, offered amnesty to all people who want to regularize their ownership of small arms to voluntarily register their weapons.

Then Minister for the Interior Prosper Bani announced at a press conference that after the 32-day amnesty period which began from August 22, anyone found in possession of illicit weapon would face the full rigors of the law.

In Ghana, it is unlawful to possess weapons without police license and offenders face a sentence of a minimum of 10 years. But the number of people in possession of small arms in the West African country is alarmingly high.

It is estimated that there are 2.3 million weapons in civilian hands in Ghana, among which only 1.2 million have been registered.

The number of illegal firearms in wrong hands means that for Ghana’s 27 million people, the ratio of illegal arms to the population hits a worrisome 1:25.

The Ghanaian authorities last year burnt some 1,300 range of illicit locally manufactured weapons seized across the country, as part of activities to mark the United Nations International Day for destruction of weapons.

Local media reported early this year the Chinese Ambassador to Ghana, Sun Baohong, presented modern security equipment worth over 280,000 U.S. dollars to Ghana’s parliament. These comprise three X-ray scanners, three sets of walk-through metal detectors, 100 sets of hand held metal detectors, and a human body security detector.

Sun said the equipment was expected to enhance the security features of Ghana’s legislature, obviously in the light of the increasing threat of terrorism across the globe.

The Chinese donation has come at just the right time when the threat of terrorism is said to be looming in Ghana, as indicated by warnings by the Canadian, UK and U.S. embassies in Ghana.

Attacks by armed robbers and highwaymen and acts of serial killings in Ghana’s recent history must be a wake-up call to government to step up its fight against small arms in wrong hands. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/

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