Will it be possible for Nigerians to walk around with guns and rifles?
On Sunday, October 1, 2017, a gunman killed 59 people and injured more than 400 people in Las Vegas.
This new incident of mass shooting in the USA has once again brought the issue of America's right to bear arms. The liberals want gun control and the conservatives don't.
Crime is a reality in Nigeria especially in cities such as Lagos and Abuja. According to the National Bureau of Statistics Crime Rate Report, Lagos had the highest number of crimes in 2016. The city of Abuja also had a high crime rate.
The Nigerian Police Force has vowed to do something about the high crime rate. In September 2017, Commissioner of Police for Lagos State Command vowed to reduce the crime rate by 30 percent in two months.
This is an admirable statement from the commissioner. But as the popular saying goes "Heaven helps those who help themselves."
During the mid-90s, the crime rate in Lagos was high. Armed gunmen would force their way into the homes of private citizens, rob them and in some cases kill them.
The situation was so bad during this period that after 7 pm, Lagosians locked their doors. In 1996, Buba Marwa Military Governor of Lagos dealt with the issue with great success.
We are a far cry from those days of near anarchy. This doesn't mean a Nigerian shouldn't bear arms to protect himself. With the high rate of kidnap and the emergence of killer cults, it won't be bad to have a Desert Eagle on you.
What does the Nigerian Constitution say about the right to bear arms?
The Firearms Act provides that no person shall hold firearms without first obtaining a license from the President, the Inspector-General of Police or the Commissioner of Police if he is resident in Lagos.
On paper, anyone would be entitled to a license provided that they are above 18 years of age, of sound mind and not visually impaired. Such a person should not have been convicted of a crime involving violence in the five years preceding his application for a license.
In reality though, getting a license is near-impossible. The application process is riddled with red tape. More often than not, influence is the only thing that matters.
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Minus this red tape, one of the leading experts in the country Abayomi Nurain Mumuni doesn't it is practical right now.
"Nigerians possessing arms is not visible because we do not have a working system," he tells Pulse in an interview.
"Before buying such, the purchaser will have to undergo some process, by the way of profiling the person soliciting to bear firearms, we do not have a data bank to identify who is whom.
"Each firearm, will surely be linked to the purchaser profile to enable smooth trace, should in case of misconduct or abuse of the weaponry, by the Corona, m ore so, with our unprotected borders, foreigner will be privileged to use such weapons against our citizens without traceable address, like cross-border bandits" he further says.
He also believes Nigerians would abuse the privilege. "Definitely, the privilege will abuse to the fullest, also remember, that with the level poverty, the country may likely turn to Animal Farm," he says.
It doesn't look like a good idea for Nigerians to move with guns and rifles. Pulse reached out to the PRO of the Lagos state command for further commentary but he wasn't available for comment.
While crime is an issue here, it is very rare for us to have gun massacres or mass shootings. While we do have security challenges, the situation is not dire enough to require everyone walking with a gun.
The negatives outweigh the positive for now. The right to bear arms is not needed yet.
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