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 finally passed on Thursday, May 12, 2016 when the House of Representatives concurred with an earlier action of the Liberia Senate on the passage of the Act. It can be recalled that the upper House in October 2015 voted 24 out of 30 in favor of the passage of the Act, except for a motion for reconsideration by one of its members. The Senate however passed the Act in February 2016 as one of its first order of business immediately upon returning from its annual agricultural break.
Reacting to the passage of the Liberia Firearms and Ammunitions Control Act, the Liberia National Commission on Small Arms, LiNCSA, described the action of the National Legislature as historic and 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 armed security forces to acquire arms within the framework of the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weaponsfor 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, the draft law which benefited from various expert inputs from national and international legal practitioners, underwent series of stakeholders consultations 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 ofthe 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.
Meanwhile, the Liberia National Commission on Small Arms recognizes and applauds the efforts, contributions and support of all stakeholders for this milestone development. The Commission calls on all its partners to continue to stand by her in moving forward to the enforcement of the law, including formulation of the administrative regulations, nationwide public education and awareness as well as guns control activities intended to prevent the proliferation and misuse of illicit firearms across the country.The Commission would also like to praise media outlets for their coverage of the activities relating to the Act, and also caution that individuals must read the Act before making public pronouncements about the contents of the Act.