The Liberia Firearms and Ammunition Control Act of 2015,the legal framework for regulating the possession and use of small arms and light weapons in the country, has been passed into law by the National Legislature.
The domestic guns control law was passed on Tuesday, October 13, 2015 by the Liberian Senate when 24 out of the 30-member House of Senate voted in plenary (20-for, 2-against and 2-abstention) to pass the law in the upper House. Following its passage in the Senate, the Law was sent back to the lower House for concurrence where it was said to have emanated with no notable objection.
Reacting to the passage of the Liberia Firearms and Ammunitions Control Act, the Liberia National Commission on Small Arms, LiNCSA, has described the action of the Liberian Senate as a welcome development. A press release issued by the Commission over the weekend quotes the Commission as saying that the passage of the Act by the National Legislature is a huge step towards the processes leading to the full transition of national security from UNMIL to Liberian security apparatus.
The Commission observed that with the passage of the Act, it was now possible to secure the lifting of the arms embargo imposed on Liberia by the UN Security Council since 1992; an action which the Commission says is necessary to allow Liberia’s security forces to acquire arms within the framework of the ECOWAS Convention on SALW Exemption protocol for arming state security forces for the purpose of defending the state.
It can be recalled that the President of Liberia proffered the draft Liberia Firearms and Ammunitions Control Bill to the 53rdNational Legislature during its 4thextended regular sitting in November 2014. Prior to its submission by the President,series of stakeholders’ consultations were held, while national and international legal practitionersand experts made inputs into the draft law over a period of seven (7) years beginning from 2008.
Following the concurrence of the lower House, the law is expected to come into force upon the signature of the President of Liberia and subsequent publication into handbills by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
As the legal framework for guns control in the country, the Liberia Firearms and Ammunitions Control Act of 2015 will, under the oversight of the Small Arms Commission and the Liberia National Police, regulate all aspects of firearms in the country, including the manufacture, sale, brokerage, storage, transfer, transshipment, possession, and use.