Sets new criteria for weapon use
Bearing arms will continue being a privilege, not a right. The Ministry of Peace (MOP) in collaboration with the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has finalized a draft bill that regulates firearms and other weapons commonly used for self defense.
This includes guns, knives, Tasers, tear gas (pepper spray), and hydrogen cyanide. The Ministry would regulate who can import and sell these items and who can own them.
During a long debate some said that the National Defense Force (NDF) and the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) should not automatically be allowed to arm their employees.
Another debate took place over the appropriate age to own a gun. Some said 18 was old enough while others argued it should be 21 still others thought the age should be even higher like 25 or even 30, since the brain is still developing through the age of 25.
There will be four institutions prohibited from owning arms; religious institutions, political parties, civil Societies, and charitable organizations as well as schools. During the session led by the state minister of Peace Zeynu Jemal and Attorney General Birhanu Tsegaye, attendants argued that schools and CSOs may need guns for security.
According to the new rules, people will only be allowed to have one semi-automatic or manual gun. They will also not be allowed to have a gun if they have a criminal record of if they do not have at least one functioning arm. They will also not be permitted to sell their gun. And they need to be new owners in order to obtain the license. The goal is to make owning a gun more difficult and to reduce the commercial reward. The license will be valid four years for individuals and five for institutions. Some debate participants expressed concern that the ministry would have too much control over gun ownership.
Criteria to bear arms
The draft bill lists nine criteria to bear arms. The person must be 21, an Ethiopian national or have a residence permit. They must show a document proving freedom from any mental illness, drug addiction, alcoholic behavior, and lawful behavior and good judgment. They are only permitted to used the weapon in proportion to the use of force and must be properly trained.
The need to have a legitimate reason to bear the arm. The MoP will determine the criteria for this.
It is still up in the air as to who will provide the training and how good behavior will be quantified. People argued that consistent criteria for mental stability be determined.
The recommendations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs oversee gun licenses for international organizations and embassies. Other criteria will be issued by the MoP, according to the draft.
The draft stated that security forces are entitled to be armed with manual and partially automatic guns, bombs and other related arms while the Federal Police may be armed with light weapons based on their mission.
When security forces carry their arms, they are obliged to wear their uniform or carry their ID or license. The security forces can not carry weapons unless they are on a dangerous assignment, undergoing an operation or if they need to protect themselves. Security forces may issue a license for a personal gun, besides the government issued one.
At the end of the dialogue, Birhanu Tsegaye stated that the responsible team will consider feedback from the participants.
“This is a transitional law and there might be changes later,” he said. “However, every region should begin working to implement it. We have to make this law operational as soon as possible.”
The drafting process is expected within a month. Then it is expected to be endorsed by the Council of Ministers.