By Ahmed Elumami.
Tripoli,16 December 2013:
Carrying weapons in Libya without a licence is to become a criminal offence in March.
The General National . . .[restrict]Congress yesterday evening voted for a law criminalising the illegal possession of weapons and bringing in a licensing system for gun ownership.
The mass of arms in the hands of quasi-official militias and the general public is seen as the major reason for the country’s present insecurity.
Confirming the law, Congress spokesman Omar Hemidan said it had been submitted by the government and but would not come into effect for 90 days. During this time, gun owners will have to apply for a licence from the Ministries of Defence or Interior.
Hemidan said that once the 90 days was over, anyone found carrying a weapon or ammunition without a license would be considered in breech of the law and arrested.
So far, however, no system to apply for a licence has been set up as yet.
Although passed by Congress, not all members supported the new law. Zawia Congressman Said Muftah Jarjar, a member of the Justice and Judicial Bodies Committee, told the Libya Herald that the law was premature. The state was still unable to provide security and saftey It was much more important to concentrate on establishing the police and the army.
However, Zintan Congressman Abdulsalam Abdullah Nassiyah told this newspaper that the law was an important start in building law and order in the country.
Even if only a few Libyans obeyed the law, it would be better than the present situation.
The law has been welcomed by government officials and ordinary Libyans alike, even though there was scepticism that it would be carried out. “It’s a very good move,” said Sadat Elbadri, head of Tripoli Local Coucnil. “A very important decision and long overdue”, was the reaction of Otman Gajiji, who praised the GNC for taking the step. It was now up to the government to enact it, he said. [/restrict]