Ethiopia passes gun control law to tackle surge in violence
Addis Ababa, Thursday
Ethiopia’s parliament passed legislation on Thursday aimed at curbing gun ownership after a surge in regional ethnic violence blamed on a proliferation of small arms in private hands.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government said last April that it had seized 21 machine guns, more than 33,000 handguns, 275 rifles and 300,000 bullets in different parts of the Horn of Africa country over the previous year.
In October security forces confiscated a further 2,221 handguns and 71 Kalashnikov assault rifles in Gonder in the Amhara region, one of the areas particularly affected by ethnic strife, domestic media said.
The rifles had been smuggled into the country in oil trucks from Sudan, they said.
The spread of small arms has been partly blamed for hundreds of killings in various ethnic conflicts over the past two years that have displaced more than 2.7 million people.
“There is a significant number of guns in our society since the previous government and the law will help us to formalise ownership,” lawmaker Tesfaye Daba told parliament during the passage of the bill.
Abiy, who came to power in 2018, has implemented sweeping liberal reforms which have won him international praise but also lifted the lid on long-repressed tensions between the country’s many ethnic groups.
The new law provides for each region to stipulate a legal age for gun ownership, Tesfaye said, while limiting the number of firearms an individual can own to one. Violations could bring up to three years in prison. -Agency