Police steps up public awareness programmes on safe handling of guns

BY Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA: THURSDAY 15 OCTOBER 2015: The Ministry of Police is stepping up its public awareness programmes and training on the safe handling and safe keeping of guns at home given the rise in accidents that cost innoncent lives recently.

A person applying for a gun license to own a gun has to go through an awareness  course programme at the Police headquarters in Apia. The training is conducted by Tagaloasa Toddy Stanley, second in command with the police weapons division.

“Everyone has to go through a firearm safety course for 2 hours,” said Tagaloasa.

The training explains the importance of knowing how to handle a weapon and basic understanding on the safekeeping of these weapons, said

He also said that Samoa’s law on weapons are very strict and require every  gun holder responsible for following the rules.

The most recent fatal accident took the life of a ten year old while playing with a loaded gun with a relative.

Police reports the boys found the gun under  a bed and according to Tagalosa, such accidents can be avoided as it all comes down to safe keeping of the weapons.

“Some people keep guns inside their cars, others drive around drunk with guns in their possession and the law has dealt with them,” said Tagaloasa.

Tagaloasa Toddy Stanley with the guns allowed under the law

Tagaloasa Toddy Stanley with the guns allowed under the law

There are specific criteria for the issue of a gun license to anyone and includes providing 5 references to identify whoever is applying for a gun license.

The applicant also needs to have verification by his wife/husband, village mayor, family chief or a pastor.

“We need to know the kind of person the applicant is and only those who know them  can provide that.”

The applicant is also asked to provide the reason why he wanted a  license, and the common reason is for work around the plantation.

“Permits will never be released to anyone with a bad attitude or temper,” said Tagaloasa.

The police also has the right to inspect the residence and environment of the applicant before the approval of a gun permit or license.

Asked how many guns a person  can own, Tagaloasa said there is no provision on that, but the Commissioner has the discretion to allow or refuse a person to have more than one gun.

The only legal guns allowed under the Samoa law are air guns, 22 rifles and 12 gauge shot guns, any other guns are considered illegal.