Against the backdrop of recent atrocities in the country, the Senate is poised to deliberate on a bill that proposes granting civilians the right to own firearms for self-defense. The bill, put forth by Senator Prince Ned Nwoko representing Delta North, awaits discussion upon the senators’ return from their New Year recess.
Senator Nwoko emphasized that the surge in security threats, killings, attacks, and kidnappings has left many feeling defenseless, motivating him to introduce the bill. He pointed to a recent violent attack during the Christmas season, where terrorists claimed the lives of about 200 people across different communities in Plateau State, as a poignant example that necessitates empowering civilians to own weapons.
The proposed bill, set for its first reading in the Senate, seeks to amend existing laws to enable civilians to own firearms responsibly. Senator Nwoko acknowledged the growing call for responsible firearm ownership as a means of self-defense, highlighting the inadequacy of current security measures in safeguarding communities.
In explaining the bill, Senator Nwoko emphasized the importance of stringent regulations and comprehensive training for firearm owners. He suggested licensed dealerships for firearms as a solution to illegal arms smuggling, providing a regulated avenue for legal firearm acquisition. The revenue generated from licensing fees and taxes on firearm dealerships could potentially support law enforcement agencies, improve security infrastructure, and address the root causes of insecurity.
Senator Nwoko outlined specific qualifications for firearm ownership, including mental soundness confirmation from four medical doctors, endorsement from the local government chairman for community validation, a traditional leader’s guarantor role, and confirmation by the Divisional Police Officer to verify the absence of criminal involvement.
The proposed firearms for civilian ownership include single and double-barrel shotguns, pistols with a maximum capacity of six rounds, pump-action shotguns, and any other types suggested by the Ministry of Defence. Senator Nwoko stressed the need for a meticulous regulatory framework and oversight to prioritize public safety.
Highlighting the prevailing insecurity in Nigeria, Senator Nwoko urged his colleagues to support the bill, citing the escalating crisis in various regions. He emphasized that the safety and protection of citizens have become paramount concerns, and the proposed legislation aims to address these issues by empowering responsible firearm ownership.