Firearm in a school a recipe for disaster

Over a fortnight ago a man marched into the Utuali’i Primary School and confronted a teacher to express his anger at the inconsistency in the school hours. 

This could have been just another parent-teacher meeting, which sometimes can get heated if a father or mother had issues with the school concerning their child. 

But the alleged sighting of a firearm in the angry father’s possession, by other parents who were at the school that afternoon, was brought to the attention of the School Principal, Leaumoana Sikuava Ajawas.

The Samoa Observer published a story titled “Angry father allegedly enters school with gun” in the February 11, 2020 edition

Leaumoana told this newspaper that the matter was reported to the Police on the same day (Thursday, February 6), as the infuriated man left the school without picking up his children, who were later dropped off by Police.

“We have not heard back from Police since we reported it last Thursday,” he said. 

“We called Police because the man’s two children were left here at school, he didn’t pick them up after that. 

“So [the] Police took the children with them to take to their home, but they did not get back to us.”

Sadly no further action was taken after the matter was reported by Leaumoana on February 6 – even when police officers dropped off the children of the man – who is at the centre of the gun possession allegations.

That is until the Police Commissioner Fuiavaili'ili Egon Keil read the story close to a week later and acted, which saw the Police get a search warrant and went on to discover guns in his home.

Details of the firearms’ discovery and the subsequent charging of a man were published in a story titled “Armed father who threatened school charged” in the February 16, 2020 edition of this newspaper.

“When I read the article, I wasn’t aware of this case so we went and explored it a little further and activated some of the procedures we haven’t done,” Fuiavaili'ili said.  “We got the search warrant and went to his house and found the guns. 

"These are very dangerous weapons that can easily be concealed and be carried without being noticed.”  

Any progress on this matter would have been unlikely, if the Samoa Observer did not publish the story. The Police Commissioner said he only acted after reading the story in this newspaper. 

This raises questions about the competency of the police officers that the School Principal initially reported the matter to on the day it happened.

If the police officers on duty that day didn't see the importance of the matter – a school principal reporting of an angry armed parent entering the school premises –  then perhaps law enforcement is not their calling.

With the increasing incidences of school shootings and fatalities in the U.S. and around the world in recent years, the local Police should not treat the issue lightly nor be complacent about the circulation of illegal firearms.

Fuiavaili'ili said a man has been charged for being in possession of an unauthorised and unlawful weapon, but they do not have enough evidence of the man walking into the school with a gun.

Therefore, he has appealed to parents – who have information about the allegations of a man who carried a gun into the school – to step forward to assist the Police.

Those parents, who allegedly saw a man carry a gun and walk into the school grounds, should step forward and assist the Police.

The Police’s discovery of more firearms at the home of a man, after they searched his home with a search warrant, should also put the spotlight on the gun amnesty program run by the Samoa Police Service. 

The gun amnesty program ended December 2018 and netted just under 100 firearms. The firearms were later destroyed. But does the increasing discovery of illegal unlicensed firearms in the possession of individuals warrant the setting up of another gun amnesty program for the country?

We hope parents, who saw a man who was allegedly arm enter a school’s premises a fortnight ago, respond to the appeal by the Police Commissioner and step forward to assist. 

The sanctity of our school grounds and ultimately the safety of our children should not be compromised, even by a parent, who should not even contemplate owning a firearm. 

Have a lovely Monday Samoa and God bless.

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