THE announcement on Tuesday by the government warning persons in possession of illegal firearms to register, renew licenses or surrender them to the police, has received mixed reactions from the public.
The 32-day amnesty given to all those who are in possession of illegal and unlicensed weapons is equally intriguing.
While some have commended the Interior Ministry for what they described as a “good call,” others are unamused, saying that we have heard this before.
The Times cannot take any particular position on this matter because small arms control is not a matter that should divide us.
According to the Ministry, an estimated 1.2million guns are in the hands of civilians, which is a threat to the peace of the country.
As a matter of fact, many of these illegal arms are also in the hands of armed robbers and other criminally intent people across the country.
Many of these criminals are committing atrocious crimes everyday with the illegally acquired arms.
The violent attacks on innocent and defenseless citizens by robbers wielding unlicensed illegal arms speak volumes about the danger we are living with.
The danger is not limited to the armed robbery attacks, but communal conflicts and cross-border crimes involving the use of weapons.
There is, therefore, real and eminent danger that the government must tackle with all seriousness.
The call to the public to register all unlicensed arms is in the right direction and all must heed the call.
Everyone concerned about the proliferation of illegal arms and the danger it poses to the peace of the country, must be prepared to support the initiative by the government.
Indeed, not only must every Ghanaian support the call, those in possession of illegal weapons who may refuse to take advantage of the opportunity offered by the government must be reported to the police.
Everyone of us has a duty to ensure that society is safe and if our individual contribution is to keep an eye on a neighbor who has an unlicensed weapon, then we must be responsible enough to report such a person to the police.
The 32-day amnesty offered all those having unlicensed and illegal weapons, is a lifeline that must be exploited by all including those who acquired the arms for nefarious activities.
We urge the government not to relent in this effort. All stakeholders, particularly the security services; should step up their efforts in checking the proliferation of illegal weapons in the country.
The 1.2million illegal weapons in the country is scary enough and efforts should be made to reduce it significantly by retrieving it from the owners.
That is the only way we can keep society safe and ensure peace in the country.