4 Apr 2003

Call for greater control of guns in the Pacific

10:29 am on 4 April 2003

One of the authors of a report on Small Arms in the Pacific says greater effort has to go into developing the capacity of governments and agencies to stop the flow of guns to criminal groups.

New Zealander Philip Alpers says the Pacific region has around double the world average of legal gun ownership, but he says banning those guns is not the solution.

He says the crucial issue is ensuring that the legally owned guns, and weapons from police and military armouries, do not end up in the hands of the criminals.

Mr Alpers says the need is for governments, customs, police and the military to be upskilled to deal with this as a serious problem.

"To trace the guns where they find them, to find out where they're coming from. There is a serial number on a gun and you can find out where it came from and you can start to control that vector of violence. I think there's a lot of potential for law enforcement to take the smuggling of firearms and the illicit use of firearms far more seriously."