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City of Banjul
Sunday, April 21, 2024
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Proliferation and rise of gun crimes

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Every other day in the country, you read a report online or on newspapers, or listen or watch a newscast on radio or television in which someone is killed or robbed with a gun.

It appears as if guns are everywhere yet these guns used by these violent criminals are being possessed illegally and unlicensed. The question is: how do these criminals come to have these deadly firearms in their possession?

The proliferation of small arms is a huge problem in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa and it seems The Gambia is having its fair share of this problem. The authorities need to look into this and find a way of putting mechanisms in place so that the whereabouts of every gun is known.

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Are the laws on gun control comprehensive enough to take into account ways of controlling, monitoring and preventing guns from entering the country? If they are, who enforces those laws? And are they doing their work properly? These are questions which need to be answered urgently.

All the armed and security agencies in the country, namely, the police, army, immigration, customs, and the intelligence services, should work together to stem the rising tide of illegal gun ownership in the country.

For the security of the country and its people there is a need to ensure that guns are put under strict control so that there is no gun in the country which is not registered and licensed.  A comprehensive study should be conducted to trace all guns in the country so that authorities know exactly where they are and who has them.

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It is general knowledge that most of the guns being held illegally in the country are surreptitiously brought into the country in containers that are shipped from North America and Europe.  These firearms are usually hidden in remote parts of these containers bringing assortments of used goods. Sometimes they are disassembled only to be put together once the containers are released to the consignee. This is exactly how the men who attacked State House in December 2014 brought in their arms and related combat gears and equipment.

The fundamental questions that should be asked are: why are these illegal and dangerous items not intercepted at the Banjul seaport? Why are the scanners not picking them up? Are the machines fit for purpose and are the people who operate them competent? What other illicit things are getting into the country?

The Ministry for the Interior, the Office of the National Security Adviser, and the National Security Council must act and act now.

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