Lack of safety education for gun-owners in Samoa
The editor of the Samoa Observer newspaper says there's not enough education around possessing a firearm safely for gun-owners in the country.
The editor of the Samoa Observer newspaper says there is not enough education on firearms safety in the country.
Police are investigating an incident in which a 9-year-old boy died last Wednesday after he was accidentally shot by his young cousin with an unregistered gun.
Mata'afa Keni Lesa told Indira Moala he suspects there are many people in the country who own guns without meeting the legal requirement.
MATA'AFA KENI LESA: The process of getting a firearm registered in Samoa is simply this: you have to have a farm; you have to prove that you actually have a plantation; and then you have to apply to the police for a Licence. And they will come and check your plantation and they will issue a licence.
INDIRA MOALA: Are there many people who don't meet those conditions that have firearms in their possession?
MKL: I suspect that there are quite a few people out there with guns that they shouldn't be having.
IM: Right, so you have to own a farm to own a gun?
MKL: Absolutely. And you know, of course in Samoa, anybody - because we've all got large amount of lands - anybody can claim that they've got a farm. So therefore, they can have a gun.
IM: In terms of farmers having possession of firearms, is there much knowledge or education around the safe practises of possessing firearms?
MKL: Personally, I don't think there's a lot of education going on. Unless you belong to the Samoa Shooting Federation, which they're pretty heavy on that stuff. But a lot of people don't belong to that federation so people are just having - it's almost like giving these guys a brand new BMW and telling them to go and crash it.
IM: How has the community reacted to the recent incident of the death of the 9-year-old boy who was accidentally shot by the firearm in Siumu?
MKL: Look, it's a big shock. But it's nothing new. This sort of stuff has happened before, it's just that this time it's a different village, different kid. When the issue surfaced last week, I know the Commissioner expressed his concerns about gun safety and gun laws. And that [issue] - it's been around for awhile. I'm not quite sure - because I think one of the things they did a few years ago was they declared a Gun Amnesty. I honestly don't know what they've done lately.
IM: Would you say that's been ineffective so far? Considering the cases have been ongoing, in terms of accidental death with firearms?
MKL: Yes, absolutely. Obviously that gun was just lying out there and if it's true, that the Commissioner said it's unregistered, it should never have been out there. So obviously there's a lot of guns still floating around. And the other issue as well is the issue of what people know what to do with the guns and if they're educated at all about owning a gun. Because I can tell you from what I know and what I see, just about every family who claims to have a plantation will have a gun. And a lot of those people don't understand about proper gun safety.
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