Il­le­gal guns need to go

Sunday Express - - LEADER -

ONCE again, Le­sotho grap­ples with the scourge of gun vi­o­lence as 12-yearold Ra­hatla Moteba was shot dead last Tues­day al­legedly by a nine-year old neigh­bour as re­ported else­where in this edi­tion.

While the de­tails are still sketchy, a mur­der case has been opened against the mi­nor sus­pect who re­sides in Naleli.

He al­legedly shot dead Ra­hatla while fid­dling with the gun ac­cord­ing to po­lice spokesper­son In­spec­tor Mpiti Mopeli.

The sus­pect’s fa­ther was also ar­rested for pos­ses­sion of an il­le­gal firearm, with in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the two in­ci­dences on­go­ing.

This tragic tale is one of many caused by the pos­ses­sion of an il­le­gal firearm.

Cases of shoot­ings re­main high be­cause, for so long, Ba­sotho have been able to ac­cess firearms smug­gled from South Africa through the por­ous bor­der.

While the po­lice de­serve com­men­da­tion for go­ing af­ter peo­ple il­le­gally pos­sess­ing firearms, more needs to be done to en­sure guns are only in the hands of law-abid­ing and re­spon­si­ble cit­i­zens.

A strat­egy to ad­dress sub­stance abuse is also in or­der since the vice plays a sig­nif­i­cant role in the preva­lence of se­ri­ous and vi­o­lent crime in the coun­try.

Al­though statistics on gun vi­o­lence in Le­sotho are not read­ily avail­able, the ram­pant in­stances of gun vi­o­lence paint a de­press­ing pic­ture of a na­tion at war with it­self.

Even though the po­lice say a lot of il­le­gal firearms have been con­fis­cated and sur­ren­dered, there are still too many il­le­gal guns in the hands of the pub­lic.

As a re­sult, gun and gang vi­o­lence can also lead peo­ple who are not in­volved in gangs to also carry guns out of fear. Af­ter all, the need for safety is a key rea­son peo­ple join gangs.

What lit­tle re­search ex­ists points clearly to the risks of in­creased gun own­er­ship in Le­sotho. A gun in the home is more likely to be used on a res­i­dent of that home than on an in­truder. Any ac­cess to a firearm in­creases the risk of death by homi­cide, par­tic­u­larly for women.

Ac­cord­ing to re­searchers at the Uni­ver­sity of San Francisco, firearms play a sig­nif­i­cant role in both sui­cide and homi­cide, accounting for slightly more than half of all sui­cide deaths and twothirds of homi­cide deaths

Fur­ther­more, the seem­ingly easy to and fro move­ment of guns across the bor­der needs more con­certed ef­forts to nip in the bud.

This brings in the role of bor­der guard­ing agen­cies, their ca­pac­ity, num­bers, de­ploy­ment pat­tern and abil­ity to op­er­ate in largely un­der­de­vel­oped and dif­fi­cult ar­eas. Re­form is cer­tainly in or­der.

Ul­ti­mately, how­ever it is the re­spon­si­ble of ev­ery cit­i­zen and res­i­dent of this coun­try to be law abid­ing. It is in­cum­bent upon ev­ery­one to be vig­i­lant in re­port­ing cases of il­le­gal gun pos­ses­sion to pro­tect lives which can­not be re­vived once snuffed out.

Guns, be it le­gal or il­le­gal, should not be in the home as ex­em­pli­fied by this latest tragedy. As long as peo­ple have ac­cess to lethal weapons in the homes, in­ci­dents of ac­ci­den­tal and in­ten­tional shoot­ings are more likely than not to oc­cur.

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