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Opinions of Saturday, 25 May 2019

Columnist: Samson Lardy Anyenini

Samson’s Take: Guns, more guns

Samson Anyenini is a Private legal practitioner Samson Anyenini is a Private legal practitioner

I fear the gun I must have. I fear because while the UN is worried that some $3 trillion is spent each day buying guns, my government and its officers entrusted to ensure only those who must own guns have and use them appropriately must be sleeping on the job. They do not have an idea of many guns are in private hands or illegally so.

The law requires them to keep a central registry where all guns registered at any police station anywhere in the country will be entered. But I am almost sure they cannot boast of anything worth relying on. They simply register the guns, for those who care to comply with the law and go to sleep. They do not follow up to ensure holders comply with the annual renewal as required by law. I know this for a fact.

Maybe the man leading the process for a smart Ghanaian economy, Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, should be taking his country digitization project to this sector. There could be prompts or reminders sent to licenced holders to renew them and in default face penalties etc. A digitized registry with the full complement of the requisite functions should help a great deal in this direction and in assuring all that a proper register is kept, at least for those who are law-abiding.

It is interesting that beyond the age-18 and sound-mind requirements, there seem to be no gun-ownership/handling/use training/test requirement as is required for the use of cars and other automobiles.

The law says people do not have an automatic right to own guns. But what screening is done before one is allowed to register to hold and use one, nil!

I simply repeat the awareness I sought to create on NewsFile (last Saturday) so we might glean the law and conduct ourselves accordingly when it comes to the law on arms and ammunition in Ghana. The law punishes you with up to ¢12,000 and/or plus up to 5 yrs in jail for breaching that law and conditions of grant of license and use of ammunition and guns.

The law, it would seem prohibits what transpired on Sunday. It commands that a “person shall not, except in accordance with the terms of a permit granted under this Act or with the prior written consent of the Inspector-General of Police, publicly display any arms or ammunition or discharge a firearm or any other weapon in a public place.”

It punishes these acts of displaying and/or discharging those instruments in public with the sanctions I have mentioned or by imposing up to 3 years jail for the violation. This, of course, is when the court finds one guilty. The weapon may be seized and forfeited on the instructions of the interior minister. This is just for education. I am interested also in knowing if the established VGMA protocol allows those guys to have walked up the stage to congratulate a winner?

If the police were stopping Shatta and his team from accessing the stage, as reported, and they forced their way up there, they could also be up for the offence of obstructing the police officers from executing their job. This also attracts up to 3 years in jail if a court exercises the option of a custodial sentence instead of a fine.

If they take the view that the conduct amounts to the prohibited riotous behaviour including that conducive to breach of the peace, and are successful in proving same in court, the accused is liable to up to 3 years in jail or may be made to pay a fine, sign a bond to be of good behaviour etc. The punishment depends on the gravity of the prohibited conduct. I have also sought to remind all of us that making derogatory remarks about persons with disabilities (PWD) for their disability is an offence punishable by a fine of up to ¢6000.00 and/or plus up to 3 months in jail. I make note of this because fans of Shatta Wale ought not to join him in mocking Stonebwoy on account of his physical challenge. Let’s consciously show them, love, because this difficult life is extra difficult for them.

May 25, 2019
Samson Lardy ANYENINI