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Guns licensees and members of the security forces are supplying guns and ammunition to the people, Papua New Guinea Works Minister Michael Nali said.
His revelation in Parliament dispelled the long-held belief that foreigners were the major suppliers of guns to Papua New Guineans.
Speaking during debate on the gun penalty Amendment Bill passed Wednesday, Nali said that licensed gun holders were buying guns and ammunitions and giving them to the people.
He added that members of the Defence Force, the police and Correctional Services were helping and selling stolen weapons from the State armouries, contributing to the rise in illegal guns nationwide.
He said if Parliament was serious about making PNG a peaceful place in the future, free from gun-related problems, a tough decision had to be made now by banning all guns.
“The Bill for the penalty is right for the time being, but I see no need for guns in this country.
“We have big issues in the country, guns is one, the other is the youth, a time bomb. Recruitment of police is another issue as street youths are recruited into the force, resulting in stealing and selling guns and ammunitions.
“With guns, tribal fighting is an industry of its own. Hitmen or gunmen are hired and paid well. They are also given young girls as compensation or payment for helping tribes in the fight as frontline gunmen,” Nali said.
Finance Minister James Marape also said that people carrying weapons were HIV-infected people trying to make big bucks by putting their lives on the line in tribal fights, an act of local terrorism.
Marape, MP for Tari-Pori, a district that has been controlled by warlords as a result of continuous tribal fights. He said HIV-positive men know that their days on earth are numbered and would carry guns and put their lives at risk in tribal fights as hired mercenaries.
Marape said like in his Tari district, guns are widespread and ammunitions are consistent, meaning that there are frequent supplies of bullets every afternoon, replacing those that have been used during the day.
“The use of firearms is the cause of law and order problems. Parliament needs to make a decision,” he said.
Petroleum Minister Dr Fabian Pok called on leaders, including Members of Parliament, to take the lead in reporting those in possession of illegal firearms or those that are misusing legal firearms.
“When you look at the law, the penalties are very harsh because the government can see the problem that is facing the country,” Dr Pok said.
“So, what do we do, we are talking legal and illegal guns, the amended law covers both legal and illegal guns. What do we do, the next thing is when we pass the laws, all of us leaders must stand up, go to our haus lains, village, tell your brothers, sisters and whoever is holding illegal guns, you must report him for the law to deal with him good and proper,” he said.
“If we don’t do it then we are lying to ourselves, we are just talking for nothing, we are leaders of our community.
“I am calling on the police and judiciary to ensure that this law must be enforced effectively, when it is enforced it will deter people doing these illegal things. Nobody wants to do five-10 years in jail, that’s what the law says, and that’s very harsh, but that will help solve the problem we have today.
“If we shut our eyes, community shuts its eyes and police shuts its eyes and judge and magistrate sometimes instead of imposing maximum penalties they impose minimum penalties, making a laughing stock out of everything.
“When talking about illegal arms, we cannot stop illegal arms but we as leaders in our community, we must work with the police, with judge and magistrates to make sure that people with illegal guns and people with licensed guns misuse, must be dealt with.”
“If we can do that it will solve the problem in the community, but if we see people carrying illegal gun and shoot everywhere, whether its legal or illegal, when we see and turn a blind eye and do not report it then we are not helping the community, we are just talking.
“The most important thing now is for us as leaders, community leaders must work with police to make sure that a person holding an illegal gun, manufacture illegal gun and someone carrying a legal gun and fires everywhere for nothing, we should report them and the court will deal with them,” said Pok.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
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