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Police to cancel licenses for non-fingerprinted guns

AIGP Edward Ochom

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT  |  The Uganda Police Force-UPF has cautioned that all guns, owned by individuals and private security companies, that will not be fingerprinted by the end of this year will have their licences revoked. 

Assistant Inspector General of Police Edward Ochom, who is the chairman of the gun fingerprinting steering committee said that persons who fail to beat the deadline will automatically lose possession of their license, and will subsequently be arrested for illegal possession of firearms.

The exercise was one of the action points announced by President Yoweri Museveni at the height of assassinations of both prominent and ordinary civilians by killers moving on motorcycles. In the implementation of the directive, the committee has so far testfired  57,171 firearms belonging to Police, Prisons, Private Security Organizations, Individual civilians and Local Defence Units -LDUs. 

The guns have been fingerprinted in the Kampala Metropolitan Policing region, Katonga, Greater Masaka, Rwizi, Kigezi, Rwenzori East, Rwenzori West, Wamala, Savannah, Albertine, North Kyoga, Kidepo, Mt Moroto, Siipi, Elgon, North Bukedi, Bukedi Region, Kiira, Busoga North, Busoga East and Sezibwa.

“The fingerprinting of guns has proven to be effective in reducing incidents of insecurity involving shootings. Simply because of the ballistic record in the the database is easily traceable to an individual or group of individuals, unlike in the past where no ballistic records existed,” Police Spokesperson, Fred Enanga told journalists in Kampala, today.

When a crime is committed using a gun, forensic teams enter the casing into an acquisition station, where it acquires different images, like a firing pin impression, an ejector mark, a breech face mark. Each firearm tested, leaves a unique marking on the shell casing.

“Each of these marks or impressions are unique, much like the DNA for humans. As images of shell casings are entered into the database, the system searches for matches of shell casings left behind at crime scene, allowing forensic ballistic experts to link them up to incidents,” Enanga said. 

Police said DNA fingerprinting has the potential to solve gun crimes and even prevent future crimes by getting the most violent and active criminals for the vast majority of shootings, off the streets. 

In a recent interview with Uganda Radio Network, Senior Superintendent of Police Apollo Kateeba, the acting commissioner for private security and firearms department, said that there are more than 3000 guns in the hands of individuals. These include government officials, members of parliament and business persons. 

Records at the Internal Affairs Ministry shared in 2017 showed more than 16,000 guns were in the hands of private security companies. There are over 203 private security companies, and of these, only 98 use batoons while the rest deploy guards with riffles.

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