The possession of firearms by civilians has been a subject of controversy for many people over the centuries, the main question being, where do you draw the line in the use of firearms?? With a device that can be used to save a life or end a life, what are the limitations that should be set out to protect the interests of civilians??
The 1977 Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania stipulates that “Every person has the right to live and to the protection of his life by the society in accordance with the law”. However, the law does lay down legal procedures regarding the circumstances, manner and extent to which the right to privacy, security of his person, his property and residence may be encroached upon without prejudice to the provisions of this Article.
The governing law for the use of firearms in Tanzania is the Firearms and Ammunition Control Act of 2015 which restricts the possession and use of firearms by any person who does not possess a valid license or permit. Any person interested in possessing a firearm must be approved by the Registrar of Firearms who is the appointed authority in Tanzania on approving possession of firearms by individuals.
To obtain the license or permit, one must be qualified to possess and use a firearm as stipulated under the relevant law by obtaining a certificate of competency, the applicant must also be a Tanzanian Citizen or a holder of a valid residence permit and a person who has not been previously convicted for a specified offence e.g., offences under the penal code, and must obtain consent from the governing local municipal and district councils amongst other factors.
Interested applicants must also undergo compulsory training at an approved government or private institution. As part of ensuring safety of the citizens, all small arms and light weapons issued shall be marked with identification codes for ease of identification and tracking.
Any person who contravenes the rules governing the use of firearms shall be liable to pay a fine not exceeding fifteen million shillings or serve a jail term of not less than ten years. Any person who fails to comply with rules of safe storage or ensuring safe custody of firearms in the event the registered owner is no longer around shall also be liable to pay a fine of not less than Two Million Shillings or serve jail time.
To ensure one complies with the law in possessing or using a firearm one should consult the relevant authorities and a qualified lawyer who can advise on the best means to ensure compliance and for one not to be held in contempt of the law.