The National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons (NCSALW) says in the coming months, more than 1.3 million registered firearms owned by civilians in the country are to be assigned unique codes for easy identification, traceability and accountability.
It explains that its markings are different from the primary serial numbers and other information already imprinted on the guns to identify the manufacturer, the country of origin, among other pieces of information, and the registration codes given by the Ghana Police Service.
The exercise is said to be part of an ongoing exercise to ensure that all guns in the country belonging to both security agencies and citizens are given distinctive features.
Thus, the Commission is currently doing the markings on security agencies’ firearms and that this would continue as and when they buy new ones.
The exercise is in line with Article 18 of the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, which mandates member countries to mark their weapons to enable identification and traceability.
The Ghanaian Times commends the NCSALW for its efforts to help trace possession, use and abuse of small arms in the country, especially as it hopes to link the Ghana Card to the unique codes to be provided to individual owners of these arms.
However, it is scary that a baseline survey conducted by the NCSALW in 2014 showed that there were about 2.3 million arms in the hands of adult civilians but only 1.2 million, representing 53 per cent, had been registered.
The Ghanaian Times believes that the figures may be higher
now and the problem has more to do with the unregistered arms, especially considering the fact that some people produce some locally which may not bear the important information needed for identification before the special registration for the unique code would be done.
The Commission must do all it can to tackle this matter even as registered small arms can threaten community and national security.
The possession of small arms, which are weapons designed for personal use, including light machine guns and sub-machine guns like pistols, has always been more of a headache to countries than their intended benefits like self-protection and hunting.
No wonder in October 1998, the UN Security Council, by its Resolution 1209 of that same year, called for global joint action to combat the proliferation of small arms, particularly in Africa.
Today, such weapons are used for violent crimes and in conflicts or disputes over chieftaincy and land, as well as in civil wars and other political conflicts across the continent.
Sometimes, the police in this country are able to retrieve small arms from conflict areas but it becomes difficult to trace the owners.
Besides, there are reported cases of robbers using guns belonging to security agencies in criminal activities, with them admitting they either hired or bought them from some security personnel.
With the unique code, it is expected, for instance, that the bad lots among the security personnel would cease from hiring out or selling guns to criminals because they could easily be traced once such guns are recorded as having been assigned to them.
It is the hope of the Ghanaian Times that the success of the NCSALW exercise would enhance the country’s internal security to boost its accolade as one of the most peaceful countries across the globe.