Illegal weapons a serious issue

Letters, Normal

I REFER to your editorial “Careless attitude to a serious problem” (Oct 30).
The comments seriously undermine the tough stance I have taken to address the proliferation of illegal firearms in PNG.
Illegal guns are a serious national issue.
Since taking office as Commissioner of Police, I have committed myself to fighting against the spread of illegal firearms.
With the support of the Minister for Internal Security Sani Rambi, we have taken this issue head on.
Development, economic progress and national advancement cannot take place if we continue to have widespread presence of illegal firearms in the hands of ordinary citizens.
Internally, within the Constabulary, we have begun implementing the various recommendations of the PNG Guns Control summit report which required little or nil funding.
As registrar of firearms I have issued a ban on the issuance of new firearms licence.
This ban remains in place indefinitely.
For security purposes, we are putting in measures that will monitor and track firearms currently in the hands of licenced holders.
Security measures of firearms now in the possession of the three disciplined forces are also being looked at with a view to tightening them to ensure that they do not fall into the wrong hands.
In many instances, careless attitude or lack of proper security measures have resulted in firearms going “missing” or ending up in the hands of criminals.
I have had copies of the PNG Guns Control summit report reproduced and will be distributing them to all commanders, commissioned officers and non-commissioned officers of the RPNGC throughout PNG.
They have been urged to take on board the recommendations and implement at their level.
As for other aspects of the report which require more resources or technical expertise, we have begun consultations with various government departments and agencies to tackle this issue.
This includes the establishment of an authority which will coordinate our efforts in the campaign to rid PNG of illegal firearms.
Make no mistake. I am committed to the fight against the spread of illegal firearms in Papua New Guinea.
As to the incident at the Jackson International Airport, it is totally unfair for The National to imply that I do not care.
At the time when The National sought my view, I did not have the benefit of a brief on the incident.
I made the comments believing that these firearms were being brought into the country illegally.
However, information was later made available to me that the firearms were being brought in by ZD Industries, an authorised gun dealer, who has been the major supplier of weapons and ammunition in the country for the three disciplinary forces in the last 30 years.
I cannot speak for or on behalf of the gun dealer, but as the registrar of firearms, I can confirm that I approved the importation of the four semi-automatic weapons which the Constabulary intended to purchase.
It is, however, the responsibility of the gun dealer to ensure that all relevant laws, such as Customs and Civil Aviation regulations are complied with.
If Customs and CAA feel that laws have been breached in the transportation of the weapons, then they should take the necessary and appropriate actions.
The last thing we need is to turn this issue into a media circus.
We are taking on board a campaign made very difficult by the fact that firearms are currently providing the power-base or strength for many of our tribes and leadership.
Understandably, any moves to remove these weapons from their possessions will be met with resistance.
We, therefore, require the support of everyone including the media.


Gari L Baki
Commissioner of Police