Carrying Weapons:  How to Deal With! [Archives:1999/47/Law & Diplomacy]

November 22 1999

Mohammed Abdullah Al-Kibssi,
Member of Parliament
Howsoever we talk about a law which may regulate carrying and possessing weapons, and whatsoever we try to persuade people that they must interact and deal truthfully with rules, projects and future programs of the government, aiming at improving our country. To make the capital city of Sana’a empty from weapons as in other civilized countries, and to secure the lives of people who are living in the city. The actual state of affairs shows that the law regulating the carrying and possession of arms would be abided by particularly.
Military Commanders and Sheikhs Have Thousands of Bodyguards:
If the state wants to activate this decision, it must take appropriate procedures. Without taking these procedures, the law will not come into being. As a large portion of the armed forces bases and camps are stationed in the capital and other cities and as a number of military leaders and Sheikhs have thousands of security men, and keep heavy weapons in their houses, military and police car number plates are given to Sheikhs and to other officials illegally and as tribal law controls the country, we expect that the law will not be implemented and our suffering will continue indefinitely.
As legislators, we discussed in the council the draft law submitted by the Interior Ministry. Thorough discussions have shown various points of view that I may summarize:
– The country is actually in need of such a law.
– The members have differed in their opinions on how to introduce the law, as long as our people are armed to the teeth.
Fifty million pieces of arms:
There are extraordinary quantities of personal weapons, higher than can be found in any other country. Some people estimate the existence of 50 million pieces of arms, but I presume this is an exaggerated number. The reasonably acceptable number might range between 20-30 million pieces of military equipment which is kept in houses.
What we need is an appreciative kind of law. Here lies the difference in views between disarming people and permitting those who possess licenses to keep them. We have to take gradual steps in the execution of the law and use an amount of flexibility to ensure acceptability and a positive response. Implementation of such a law needs to be preceded by a large-scale campaign of enlightenment. And we seek in this respect full cooperation by social dignitaries in addition to directives to armed forces and security elements, not to carry arms when they are not on duty. But we have to take into consideration those who are involved in tribal disputes.
It is to be admitted that most social figures and members of parliament have bodyguards, but the state bears full responsibility for providing for their protection.
They would no longer need that number of guards. At the same time the number of bodyguards must be confined to the actual need of those personalities without exaggeration in number. It is the military police’s task to curtail this phenomenon. Thus we would be able have the law applied to all and limit the number of bodyguards and cars used in motorcades.
Military and security men must be banned from carrying arms in the streets when they are not on duty. Some people have licenses and are licensed to carry arms abroad. This point should also be taken into account.
Some Military and Police Cars Have Forged Numbers:
There is another crucial problem represented by military and police cars which hide weapons, especially when those on board wear military uniform.
Those cars which carry military numbers are not in fact military or police cars, but there are forged numbers given by some policemen to their relatives and friends. We need official instructions which prevent military cars from being driven through the streets after working time.
The essential thing to help carry out this decision is awareness, and participation by information media in this regard.
I would like to say that society is growing up, problems are expanding and the misconduct of some police and judicial departments give ways to such offenses. Sometimes, the situations need to be changed. We should concentrate on how people can recognize the importance of law. Parliament should discuss those decisions.
For example, if you can not make a true diagnosis, you can not give the appropriate drug. This means that people are in need of guidance and awareness, and mass media’s role is very important here.
As democracy gave us freedom of opinion, as there are many courts, legislative authorities and as the political will is present, there is an urgent necessity to punish those who do not comply with this decision. Law is legislated for the whole society, not just for a particular class. Regarding the decision of disarmament, I am optimistic that this period is better than before.
Some Proposed Solutions for this problem:
1- Law should be flexible and military and security forces should abide by carrying out this decision.
2- Those who do not respect the law should be punished.
3- Tribesmen and sheikhs should be guided by information media, and the state should take strict measures against them.
Armed Forces Should Abide By Government Decisions:
We are witnessing a credibility on part of the government and the state. Sometimes issuing any decision takes a long time because there are some corrupt forces, but what is happening now is as an undeclared war against carrying weapons. In fact we would not believe this while weapons are used in wedding occasions, in addition to using weapons during quarrels.
At present, society and legislative authority are in need of these decisions more than before. If we want to develop our country, we have to support democracy and reject violence. Democracy is not merely elections, but freedom of opinion and respect of human rights.
If the military forces abide by government decisions and if we illustrate through press and information media the dangers of carrying weapons, we will witness a good improvement in our society.
To carry out government’s decisions, I suggest the following:
1- We need a decision which defines the number of security guards for every official.
2- Law should be taken over all people.
3- Military commanders should abide by the disarmament decision, and soldiers should not carry weapons except when they are on duty.
4- Officials should abide by state instructions and not take their prerogatives as a means of showing force.
5- Preventing weapons from being carried into towns through checkpoints.
6- Issuing weapons licenses should be stopped.
7- Military and police cars should not wander through streets after working time except for military tasks.