The house of peoples’ representatives has passed legislation aimed at curbing gun ownership.

The government said last April that it had seized 21 machine guns, more than 33,000 handguns, 275 rifles and 300,000 bullets in different parts of the country over the previous year. 

In October security forces confiscated a further 2,221 handguns and 71 Kalashnikov assault rifles in Gonder in the Amhara region. The rifles had been smuggled into the country in oil trucks from Sudan, they said.

The spread of small arms has been partly blamed for hundreds of killings in various ethnic conflicts over the past two years that have displaced more than 2.7 million people.

“There is a significant number of guns in our society since the previous government and the law will help us to formalise ownership,” lawmaker Tesfaye Daba told parliament during the passage of the bill.

The new law provides for each region to stipulate a legal age for gun ownership, Tesfaye said, while limiting the number of firearms an individual can own to one. Violations could bring up to three years in prison, according to the new legislation.

It will also ban private trade in weaponry and allow only allowing certain government institutions to import guns.

Those found to have involved themselves in arms trafficking would face prison terms of eight to 20 years. Walta Reports