In the past week alone, the police recorded at least four shootings across the country. In some of these events, lives were lost. In one of the cases, a woman was shot and injured near the ministry of health headquarters and the assailant fled the scene. In another incident over the weekend, a person was shot dead in Block Six, Gaborone.
The police are still investigating the incidents. This adds to crime statitics that show an average of seven murders, and tens of armed robbery cases every week.
What is disturbing is the rate at which our streets are becoming a haven for guns, yet we do not have stores that sell guns over the counter. It becomes obvious that some of these guns are illegal or were smuggled into the country and the people who possess them do not qualify to have. These people have not been properly trained or tested on the handling of firearms.
The question that arises is how the guns find their way into our country. It is clear that our borders are not very strict in scanning of travellers in and out of the country. Another problem is the light penalties of the offence of unlawful possession of a firearm. The fines are low and cannot be used as a deterrent.
It is time we review our gun control legislation and tighten them before it is too late. Countries that legalised ownership of guns are now regretting it. The United States, for example, is grappling with mass shootings in public gatherings and institutions because guns are easily accessible even to an insane person. In that country nobody is guaranteed of their safety as evidenced by the shooting of kindergarten pupils in 2013, the shooting of university students two weeks ago and other countless killings that took place before.
The debate on ownership of guns crops up everytime there is a mass shooting and it is also a big issue for the forthcoming elections.
It baffles the mind that even officers of the Botswana Police Service, who are supposed to protect us do not always carry guns with them. They are sometimes faced with armed, dangerous and trigger happy criminals who are ready to pull the trigger at the sight of a police officer or any law enforcement agent. We hope that our parliamentarians and relevant authorities will consider tightening the law on gun control and make sure that we reduce the number of guns in our streets.
“Yes, people pull the trigger - but guns are the instrument of death. Gun control is necessary, and delay means more death and horror”.
– Eliot Spitzer