2.3 million guns in civilian hands in Ghana
Preliminary findings of a survey estimate that there are 2.3 million guns in civilian hands in Ghana.
Out of this number, the Police Firearms Bureau registered 1,236,128 weapons issued to civilians between 1981 and 2013.
What is alarming is that in the last ten years, less than 35,000 weapons issued to civilians by the police were renewed each year, apart from 2005 when 61,778 weapons were renewed.
In Ghana, licenses to bear arms are renewable after every December 31 of each year.
The survey was conducted by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) on behalf of the Ghana National Commission for Small Arms and Light Weapons, with final and technical assistance from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Japan.
Mr John Mark Pokoo, Head of the Small Arms and Light Weapons Programme at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), told The Finder that Northern Region has the highest number of guns, recording 39%, followed by Ashanti Region with 19%; Brong Ahafo, 17%; Upper West and Greater Accra recorded 16% each.
He added that Western Region recorded 15%; Eastern, 14%; Volta, 12%; Upper East, 9%; and Central, 8%.
He explained that the survey was conducted in all the ten regions of Ghana with five districts in each region.
According to him, in selecting the districts, consideration was given to conflict background, post-conflict background and peace.
Mr Pokoo stated that locally manufactured guns and guns smuggled into the country cannot be registered under the laws of Ghana.
He noted that data for the survey was collected in November and December 2013 as part of a bigger study comprising desk review, focus group discussions, facility visits to armouries of all gun-wielding security agencies in the country, as well as individual in-depth interviews.
He disclosed that about 70% of civilians said they were using the guns for self and family protection.
Mr Pokoo added that another 70% agreed to surrender their guns if given the opportunity to do so.