The earliest depiction of a firearm is a sculpture from a cave in Sichuan, China. The sculpture dates to the 1100s and is of a figure carrying a vase-shaped bombard with flames and a cannonball coming out of it.
The oldest surviving gun, made of bronze, has been dated to 1288 because it was discovered at a site in modern-day Acheng District, Heilongjiang, China, where the Yuan Shi records that battles were fought at that time.
In our previous article, we had promised to bring to your attention more definitions/descriptions of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW). Usually, Small Arms are limited to revolvers, pistols, submachine guns, carbines, assault rifles, rifles, sniper rifles, squad automatic weapons, light machine guns, and sometimes hand grenades.
Shotguns, general purpose machine guns, medium machine guns, and grenade launchers may be considered small arms or as support weapons, depending on the particular armed forces.
It is important that we come back to the main theme and one of the core objectives of the Rwanda National Police through the Central Firearms Registry (CFR) which is to minimize and eradicate where possible the illicit proliferation of SALW.
Today, we shall come back to Marking as one of the key elements in tracing of illicit SALW.
According to the Nairobi Protocol for the Prevention, Control and Reduction of Small Arms and Light Weapons in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa especially in Article 7 emphasizes that member states should embark on Marking, Tracing and Record keeping of SALW.
The third paragraph of article 7 indicates the necessity for all member states to ensure that all Small Arms and Light Weapons are marked with a unique mark.
In line with the implementation of this article, Marking of SALW in Rwanda started in January 2009 and this exercise kicked off by marking Police firearms.
All the firearms in the Central Region including the General Headquarters have been marked and soon all the remaining four (4) Provinces shall be covered.
It should be noted that unmarked weapons cannot be identified uniquely. While a weapon’s design may enable interested parties to identify its manufacturer, marks indicating the manufacturer and country of manufacture are usually indispensable.
In all cases, the presence of a unique serial number allows one weapon to be distinguished from hundreds or thousands of others that may have been produced at a particular factory.
Moreover, if countries mark the weapons that they import, tracing efforts are far more likely to succeed. Few states, however, mark military weapons in ways that would allow a non-expert to identify the manufacturer.
The target for all RECSA member states is to mark all their firearms with a unique mark as one of the efforts to curb down the illicit proliferation of SALW. The standard mark for RECSA member states is star (*), country code then department to which the firearm belongs and then serial number.
An example is a firearm in Rwanda which belongs to police with serial number 0001. It will be *RW NP 0001.
The other country codes include *KE for Kenya, *TZ for Tanzania, *BU for Burundi, *UG for Uganda and so forth as according to the International country codes.
The rationale for fighting the illicit proliferation is also to attain sustainable development, since low levels of household incomes may result into criminal tendencies and escalate into conflict thus leading the citizens to resort to illegal firearms possession for survival and this in turn brings about high crime rate targeting lives and property of the community, insecurity, low levels of development and prolonged poverty among others.
In our next series we shall bring to you more on-going sensitization efforts in different parts of the country.
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