Ethiopia’s parliament passed a new gun control law amid rising deadly violence across the country. The Firearm Administration and Control proclamation, passed into law by the country’s upper house of parliament on Thursday, is seen as a key tool to combat insecurity in the country.
The legislation bans private trade in weapons and prescribes tough prison sentences for illegal possession of firearms.
Under the new law:
- An individual can own only one gun.
- The selling and transferring of a weapon to a third party is prohibited.
- Three-years jail time for carrying a weapon illegally.
- 15 years imprisonment for illegal bulk sales.
- Individuals currently owning or carrying unlicensed firearms have a year to get their guns registered and licensed.
Last April, the Prime Minister reported that security forces had seized 21 machine guns, 33,000 handguns and some 300,000 bullets from civilians.
Ethiopia is expected to hold elections later this year but ethno-regional tensions remain a concern. Hundreds have been killed in violence and over a million people are displaced from their homes.
Analysts and political watchers have long warned that the transition to democracy which started in April 2018 could be undermined by a surge in ethnic violence, motivated in part by the proliferation of small arms in private hands.