Police Spokesman, Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIGP), Asan Kasingye, has warned gun owners against exposing their privately-owned guns in public. He said that some people even do so in the social media applications like; facebook WatsApp and Twitter.
“Some people carrying these guns are very stubborn and they are giving guns to wrong elements. They even go with them to bars, discos, massage parlours and churches. Others are simply showing-off with pistols, yet these guns are given for specific purposes, as when one is under threat,” Kasingye said.
He added: “Most of the people who do this think it’s a pleasure to expose but this is very dangerous; it must stop. Even posting such photos of someone exposing his or her gun must stop.”
While addressing journalists this week, at Naguru Police headquarters, Kasingye revealed that the Police are to start an operation of investigating the people who have and if they are the rightful owners. According to Kasingye guns have rules and are not flowers for exposure or a showing off-gesture. “This culture of intimidating people has to end immediately, as if there are no laws in this country.”
Kasingye’s warning has come following the gunning down of Andrew Felix Kaweesi and severally cases of murder by guns. However, Kasingye also noted that some of the gun exposures have been done by young Assistant Superintendents of Police who want to instill fear in the communities where they are deployed.
Public speaks out
A resident of Makindye, Hamidh Kayemba, concurred with Kasingye’s observation saying, “The people exposing guns are normally security officers who think it’s totally normal; that’s why we fear to go to bars where they are in. They are very arrogant and threaten us at times.” He added that it would be good if the Police themselves curb this threatening habit.
A former security agent, Kassim Malembe, said that exposing guns and posting pictures on these social media platforms has “created a different society in Uganda”. According to reports, between 2010 and 2014 Uganda had 43,512 gun crimes which were the highest in East Africa. Among these are those evolved from exposing them and mistakenly kill people. Further statistics show that in Uganda there are 400,000 guns within the civilian population, yet only 3,000 are legally registered. Last year Government collected only 6,000 small arms in a nationwide exercise.
The minister of Internal Affairs, Gen. Odongo Jeje, said that death rates by shooting are increasing; and in the past three years 503 people have been killed in this manner; while 1, 477 survived with severe gun wounds. In an address to Members of Parliament on the Defense and Internal Affairs Committee, at a workshop on Small and Light Arms last month at Entebbe last month, Odongo accepted that Government lacks that data to estimate perfectly the number of guns held illegally.