The Minister for Justice, Johnston Busingye, has said that there should be no cause for alarm amid the ongoing process to amend the law on firearms since the process of acquiring or selling a gun is “too stringent”.
He said this a day after the lower chamber of parliament passed the draft law that determines procedures for the acquisition, possession, carriage, manufacturing, sale, storage and obtaining of all types of fire arms.
Addressing the media yesterday, Busingye said that the legislation should not surprise anyone because it has been in existence since 2009, adding that nothing had changed other than adding new measures to make the whole process even tighter.
“This is not a new law. It dates way back to 1979, when there was a Ministerial Order concerning arms and which later became law in 1982. In 2009, they were both scrapped and replaced by the current law.
“It’s very difficult for an individual or an institution without security in their obligations to successfully go through the stringent process to own, manufacture or sell guns. It’s not impossible to own one but the level of scrutiny and controls is now even tighter and the possibilities even fewer,” he said.
Busingye pointed out that the lowest ranking official who may be able to issue such a permit is the Inspector General of Police and the highest authority, the Cabinet.
In 2009, the law was made up of 74 articles. In 2012, about 11 of them were removed and put in the penal code.
In the draft law that was passed on Monday by the Lower House, the articles were reinstated with corresponding penalties. Only one article has been added regarding the signing off of the Cabinet for whoever is interested in owning or selling guns.
“The law has not been known by many because only few people have over the years been given these licenses and they are not private citizens but security companies. This law is in place as legal principle because without putting such laws in place, if someone is caught with a gun, then there should be a law that directly deals with it. You cannot say that someone was caught with an illegal arm yet there is no law talking about owning guns,” he said.
Rwanda is a signatory to several international treaties regarding possession of small firearms.
The country is also a signatory to the 2004 Nairobi Protocol for prevention, control and reduction of small arms in the Great Lakes Region.