3 Apr 2003

Pacific Governments told they need stronger gun control laws

11:58 am on 3 April 2003

The secretary general of the Pacific Islands Forum has made a plea for countries supplying small arms to the Pacific to do more to stop the supply at the source.

Noel Levi made the call at the launch of a report called Small Arms in the Pacific.

He says it is a timely report because the proliferation of small arms in the Pacific is causing serious disruption and instability.

One of the report's authors Philip Alpers says for much of the Pacific the rate of legal gun ownership is twice the world average or about one gun for every ten people.

He also says that in Fiji, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, groups bent on rebellion have treated state owned armouries as gun supermarkets, uplifting the weapons when needed.

Mr Alpers says that the report shows the inconsistencies in gun laws leaving the region vulnerable to gun running, but it has the opportunity to act before it is too late..

Meanwhile the Forum secretary general says member countries are soon to receive the draft of the Regional Model Weapons Control Bill.

Noel Levy says if adopted by Forum Islands Countries the measure would significantly improve the existing firearms laws and provide a common regional deterrent to small arms traffickers.