THE level at which people in our country are resorting to using guns, as a security measure or to sort out issues, is frightening.
Zambia has never been a gun culture country and what is now happening is a strange phenomenon and, of course, something just out of this country.
There number of guns in people’s hands, whether legally or illegally obtained, is just as scaring as the rate at which people are being shot dead, most times by the very persons that are supposed to protect them. We are sometimes made to ask the question as to whether most guns in our nation are actually in the right hands.
But of course, like lawyer and journalist Dickson Jere once observed, the gun licenses in our country are issued indiscriminately without the police doing any background checks on the applicants and their tempers. This is even more worrying because it does not only place the lives of criminals in danger but even innocent persons as well because, in every 10 persons with guns, at least one may be short tempered. The kind that will only think after they would have already discharged their firearm and taken a life.
Our observation is that communities with a gun culture are usually violent communities. Numerous examples exist to prove this fact even here in Africa. The reason is simple – those communities have been very liberal and carelessly allowed guns to be in many people’s hands in the name of enhancing personal security.
But those same guns have sometimes been used to killed innocent persons or even the very same people who issued them, in criminal activities.
Like Jesus told his disciple, Simon Peter, in Mathew 26:52, that “For all who draw the sword will die by the sword”, we, as a community, are literally also in the process of creating a violent society in which we may subject more people to the danger of guns if we do not immediate act to change the situation.
Other than the media reports of some persons criminals shooting victims, spouses shooting spouses etc., there has been several incidents of political party supporters drawing handguns on other people opposed to them especially during confrontations. Why we, as a people and country, should allow ourselves to resort to using guns to sort out issues is something we cannot comprehend.
Our suggestion is that we should first interrogate the system of indiscriminately issuing gun licenses to people because some of the persons allowed to own handguns may infact abuse or misuse them hence pose a serious danger to other people.
We are also of the view that background checks on applicants be made compulsory and intensified before any approvals are made in order to ensure that only persons with the right frame of mind are allowed to own and handle firearms. Persons with short fuses should at all cost never be given access to guns.
We would also like to recommend that punishment be stiffened for anyone found illegally owning a gun because, in most cases, it is these same illegally obtained firearms which end up being used in illegal activities.
Our sore aim as a nation should be to reduce the soring levels of violence in our society by reducing the number of guns in people’s hands.