Authorities in Kenya on Tuesday set fire to more than 5,000 illegal firearms stockpiled for about a decade in a bid to discourage the circulation of illegal weapons in the country.
Deputy President William Ruto presided over the burning of the firearms, which included both rifles and pistols arranged in three stacks of about 15 feet high.
The deputy president said the firearms were recovered through voluntary surrender, the government’s disarmament program and by security personnel from violent criminals.
“Firearms in the hands of wrong people continue to violate our peace and stability and become a threat to the security of our country. Armed violence, community conflict, cattle rustling, poaching violent crime is what makes this illicit firearm dangerous for our country.”
“All the ills in our society, from terrorism, human trafficking, drug trafficking, are promoted in a big way by illicit firearms in the wrong hands,” he added.
The unorthodox act of burning the illegal firearms is a clear message to the public of the government’s will to remove illegal weapons from the streets.
Kenya has very strict gun laws of which obtaining a license to own one is difficult. Prospective gun owners are subjected to countless interviews and background checks, making it appealing for civilians to get those smuggled into the country through porous borders; specifically from the war-ravaged neighbor to the north – Somalia.
The Kenyan government estimate that at least 500,000 guns are currently illegally held by civilians in a country battling extremist violence.
Kenya has been repeatedly attacked by Islamic extremist group, Al-Shabab, who has successfully recruited hundreds of Kenyans to perpetrate attacks from within.