How to get a license to carry a gun in Kenya

BY EDMUND KIIRU WAMBUI

In the past week, the media has been awash with news about the level of insecurity which seems to have sky rocketed despite assurances from security organs that they are in control of the situation; but there are records that show that the issue of insecurity has become a running horse which is very difficult to shoe.

The purpose of recognizing and protecting human rights is well stated in the Constitution of Kenya 2010. It is so provided that every person shall enjoy rights and fundamental freedoms as categorically stated in the bill of rights to the greatest extent, and subject to any limitations that are stated.

One of those fundamental rights and freedoms is provided for under chapter 4 of the bill of rights, under Article 29, with the sub heading FREEDOM AND SECURITY OF A PERSON. There under, it is stated that every person has the right to freedom and security. When it comes to security there is no trial and error, it is that either you have it or you do not. Judging from the recent scenarios where incidents of insecurity are easy to come by just like a cup of tea and where there is an outbreak of crime on the local level, it almost seems that our security organs have either relaxed or they are under-working.

It is easy to find justification for something one believes in. There is widespread talk that we must all have guns for personal security. The powerful and affluent in the country have already gone ahead and acquired guns on the basis of the literal interpretation of the phrase, “security starts with me and you”. Should we all be armed? There are reasons for and against such a proposition. But then, do you know what you need to own a firearm in Kenya?

The following is the procedure that any member of the public who wishes to apply for a license to hold a firearm is supposed to follow. The procedure is provided for under the Firearms Act Cap 114 Laws of Kenya.

The applicant must obtain the prescribed form (Form 1) from the Officer Commanding Police Station (OCS) of the Police Station nearest to their residence and fill it in duplicate. The OCS will assist the applicant to complete the form after which the applicant will handover one copy to the OCS and forward the duplicate copy to the Central Firearms Bureau. Take note that the OCS may instruct you to write a formal application letter to accompany the copy of Form 1.

The applicant’s bio data including fingerprints will be taken as part of the Police due-diligence procedures and a Police Clearance Certificate commonly referred to as a “certificate of good conduct” may be demanded by the OCS. You may need to make prior arrangements for one.

The OCS will then forward the bundle of documents to the Officer Commanding Police Division (OCPD) where the OCPD will make comprehensive recommendations on the applicant which will be deliberated on and vetted by the District Security & Intelligence Committee and further by the Provincial Security & Intelligence Committee before rejection or approval.

This security vetting is broad based and may touch on social and financial status of the applicant, past and present criminal activities, nature of work, and crime prevalence in the applicant’s locale, mental health and temperament as well as violence records. Failure to pass one of these checks automatically bars one from being permitted to own a firearm. These checks are stringent and are regularly repeated and must be continually passed for anyone to continue holding the gun license. Failure to pass any of these checks at any stage, means an automatic and immediate revocation of any issued license.

The list of those vetted and cleared for consideration to be licensed gun holders is then forwarded to the Inspector General of Police, who has the final say to instruct the Chief Licensing Officer to clear the applicant. The Chief Licensing Officer will then write a reply to the applicant informing him/her of the decision arrived at and the next course.

If the application is successful, the applicant receives a firearm certificate allowing him or her to purchase the weapon he or she applied for in Form 1.

There are currently only 14 licensed and gazetted firearms dealers from whom a license holder can legally purchase a gun with costs starting from KES. 100,000/- upwards, depending on the type. The entire process may take anything from 3 to 12 months and the cost of obtaining the licenses depend on the type and number of firearms applied for.

A gun holder should always remember that the firearm itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Therefore any misuse will always be hinged on the owner.

You want a fire arm, go ahead and apply for one!

This article was originally written for our newsletter, The Deuteronomy

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