In Summary
  • The issue: Gun violence
  • Our view: Curbing such shooting incidents will, therefore, require step-by-step approach that involves tightening gun use rules and addressing specific conditions that may require anger management and counselling services.

Following the shooting of Kenneth Akena, a community worker, at Lugogo in Kampala in 2016, former Inspector General of Police (IGP) Gen Kale Kayihura asked Members of Parliament to review Uganda’s gun policy to support Uganda Police Force restrict issuance of guns. According to Kayihura, privately and state-owned licensed guns have been widely misused in criminal activities.

Early this year, IGP Martin Okoth Ochola also issued directives to division police commanders regarding the management of arms. Mr Ochola asked police commanders to streamline the management of guns whether in possession of police, private security organisations and civilians in their areas of jurisdiction.

The IGP’s directive was meant to ensure proper accountability and control measures of all firearms and restoration of full command and authority; take proactive action to recover all firearms being illegally and irregularly possessed; and file a full inventory of all firearms and ammunitions to his office.

Both IGP Ochola’s directive and Gen Kayihura’s appeal to Parliament aimed at gun control are great proposals. However, to curb the rampant misuse of guns, security agencies must also look critically at gun misuse within the Forces. It is important to control issuance of guns to civilians just as it is crucial to tighten gun use policies within security forces.
The country has registered several cases of shooting by UPDF soldiers, police officers, and security guards.

On Saturday, a UPDF soldier in Gulu was reported to have shot dead three people, leaving the fourth victim severely injured. According to the officer in charge of criminal investigation at Gulu Central police station, Mr Ronald Were, the victims were having a drink at a bar in Bardege Division in Gulu Municipality when the soldier attached to Fourth Infantry Division barracks in Gulu District stormed the drinking joint at about 11pm and opened fire at them.

Two similar incidents were reported in Masaka and Kampala last week. And in the past years, there have been many cases where members of security forces have shot people in bars, homes, and even within the barracks. This calls for stringent gun control measures within the forces to curb such senseless killings.

It is also worth noting that the army operates in unique and stressful environments such as wars, which often leave them dealing with combat-related conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Curbing such shooting incidents will, therefore, require step-by-step approach that involves tightening gun use rules and addressing specific conditions that may require anger management and counselling services.