Firearm amnesty to run until January 31
Illegal gun owners have another 25 days to hand over their weapons to Police and not face prosecution, with the national firearm amnesty extended until the end of the month.
The Ministry of Police, Prisons and Corrections (M.P.P.C.) revealed on Tuesday it will extend the Firearm Amnesty Period to Sunday 31 January 2021.
“This decision has been made due to a recent involvement of firearms in a homicide case on the 1st January 2021 as well as the increasing number of firearms being turned in by members of the public,” the Ministry said.
“M.P.P.C. is allowing this final opportunity to any person who has in their possession any firearm(s), ammunition(s), explosive(s) or unlawful weapon(s) to be handed in to any Police Station with no questions asked and free of prosecution.”
Samoa is currently under its third ever gun amnesty, which began in October 2020 after a raid in August netted seven pistols and nine rifles, including .22 and .38 calibre pistols, a shotgun, a .22 rifle and two large barreled rifles.
It was supposed to end in December.
The first two amnesties finished with more than 400 guns handed over, though the second saw significantly less than the first.
“Looking back at the first amnesty in 2015 more than 300 weapons were turned in and three years later the second amnesty was little over 100, there is a big gap,” Minister of Police and Correction Services, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt said, in September.
“And that is why we know there are still a lot of illegal guns out there.”
By late October the amnesty had already resulted in 56 guns being handed over, according to Police Commissioner Fuiavailiili Egon Keil.
Already this year two people have been killed by people with guns. It is not yet known whether they were legally owned or not.
Fuiavailiili said police have been kept extremely busy over the holiday period, which he has said “was not a good start to the new year.”
He believes alcohol was involved in the shooting incident.
In South Africa, a firearm amnesty between late 2019 and May 2020 was able to recover nearly 47,000 firearms, according to the Government of South Africa. It began a second amnesty period in August 2020 which will last until late February.
A similar concept was used in Toronto but was met with some criticism for targeting the wrong people and the wrong guns, as people could not drop guns off anonymously.
The Toronto programme also offered cash for guns in a buy-back scheme. In total the 2019 amnesty recouped over 3,100 guns.