Former Army Chief calls on PNG Govt to curb rampant gun use
Retired PNG army commander calls on government to clamp down on rampant use of illegal guns ahead of next year's election
A former army commander says illegal gun use is the single biggest threat to PNG society, and will threaten the security of its citizens when they go to the polls next year.
Retired Major General Jerry Singirok is calling on the government to take ownership of the issue and revisit a 2005 report on gun control.
He spoke to Jo O'Brien
JERRY SINGIROK: The situation has gone from bad to worse so I am making this call now because in 8 month the nation will go to the polls and because there is no control over guns there is going to be there is going to be a prevalence or increased use of guns for illegal purposes.
JO O'BRIEN: So you think there is a real prevalence for gun violence around that election?
JS: We have serious security concerns with guns being used everyday. Everyday there is somebody being shot robbed or harassed intimidated by use of guns. Illegal guns or state issued guns by members of the police force. That is why it is very important that we start to debate this the issue of guns publicly and my concern there is no political will over the whole issue of guns. Our politicians now the serious security threats about the use of guns but they have done nothing to address this issue.
JO: This report came out way back in 2005 and has any of the recommendations been picked up at all?
JS: Not one single recommendation has been implemented because they did not debate the gun control report in the floor of parliament. Because the report makes reference to amendments in various legislation like the firearms act, the transport act, customs act, the police act. But so many legislation will be affected that is why we cannot do it piece meal it has to be done in totality. But firstly it has to be debated on the floor of parliament and then a committee has to be set up so that they commence the whole framework of coming up with the new firearms act and the personal aspect of management of guns.
JO: And how widespread would you say the proliferation of guns is in the country now?
JS: It is rampant. No province is spared by the use of illegal guns. There is high concentration of guns up in the highlands but that doesn't mean that the coastal provinces are safe. Everyday there is a hold up or murder or robbery in other provinces by the use of guns.
JO: So what specific steps would you say need to be taken to try and clamp down on it?
JS: Firstly the government needs to realise that the guns is a much bigger issue, they have to take ownership. Secondly the government agencies like the police force, the police commissioner is the registrar of firearms. I am urging the police commissioner to look at the operational aspect of the management of issues and restrictions of guns, gun registry. Thirdly the defence force should be, maybe between all the security forces is the only one that is going to have and make sure that the armouries are safe. And taking basic measures in controlling and issues state issued guns to its members. Other than that the police also under that mandate, the legislation can go ahead and continue to clamp down on guns being used in places that the guns are prevalent. There is no will by the government to support and get the police to conduct operations in relation to curbing guns.
JO: And are you fearful with what could happen with the general election coming up if nothing is done about the gun situation?
JS: Yes I am really concerned that many people are going to be voting either under duress or will not go because of fear of intimidation or being shot at. Or a lot of places people will just refuse to go and vote because of the presence of illegal guns. It's as simple as that.
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