Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

Arms collection bill to grant carte blanche to security forces – Weapon spread raise high security concerns

Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khalid Al-Sabah faces a tough challenge as the government eyes gun control

Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khalid Al-Sabah faces a tough challenge as the government eyes gun control

KUWAIT: The government has grown increasingly concerned about the presence of unlicensed firearms and their availability in Kuwait. Unnamed security sources, quoted in local Arabic daily Al Qabas, warned that the unlicensed arms raise the risk of higher murder rates. They noted that murders by firearm are relatively rare, with only 13 gun homicides in the past four years, including four in 2013. But at the same time, the sources pointed out that in 2013, 155 cases of weapon possession and ammunition without a license were recorded, compared to 79 in 2012.

The government is now planning to set before the National Assembly a law to authorize the collection of unlicensed arms. The law, if passed, would allow the Public Prosecutor to issue warrants to police to inspect individuals, residences, buildings and means of transport to search for unlicensed arms or ammunition, according to Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs and Acting Justice Minister Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah Al- Mubarak Al-Sabah.

Granting carte blanche to security forces to enter homes and search other residences and people could have implications for civil rights in Kuwait though so far there has been little publicly stated opposition to the proposal. Currently, police may not enter homes, barns, farms or other private property until after obtaining a warrant from the prosecution and only once investigation has confirmed information about the existence of a weapon.

Easy access Despite strict regulations on gun ownership, firearms including handguns and hunting rifles can be easily bought at local markets. The estimated total number of guns (both licit and illicit) held by civilians in Kuwait is 630,000 according to Gunpolicy.org, an international firearm injury prevention and policy group. This works out to about 24.8 firearms per 100 people, both locals and expatriates (2007 estimates). The Ministry of Interior has determined that growing judicial seizures of arms and ammunition indicates a potential rise in gunrelated crime and is looking to advert such an increase with the change in the law. It’s unclear what efforts are being done to prevent the importation of firearms or through which means - illicit or legal - gun imports are controlled. The Al-Qabas article suggests that the vast majority of weapons are filtering in from neighboring countries and tighter land border controls are needed.

Growing support Several lawmakers including MP Jamal Al-Omar met yesterday to support the enactment of the arms collection bill and to also discuss the question of revoking citizens’ nationality. Al-Omar said he met with His Highness the Prime Minister within his individual meetings a group of Parliament members to discuss a range of issues that “have been the subject of our attention and our conversation and the issue of the unlicensed arms collection besides holding accountable those responsible for the withdrawal of nationality on the grounds of fraud.” As early as 2010, the Ministry of Interior began looking into means of controlling the growing phenomena of private gun ownership in Kuwait. But the issue has come to the fore after a growing security crackdown and a few high profile homicides involving firearms. In April, for instance, two Indian security guards were shot dead during an armed robbery of a security van at the Sulaibiya vegetable market.

Pin It
This article was published on 20/08/2014