An estimated 1,200 private security providers have been instructed to re-license their firearms on or before October 31 this year or face the consequences, a senior official of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said yesterday. He said the security providers had been given prior notice towards this effect and therefore they are expected to comply accordingly with the deadline or face the consequences that could include the cancellation of the license, fines or even both.
“The bulk of the security providers are issued with firearms mainly repeater shotguns and others within the same category those mainly transporting cash and bullion and in some cases providing security to VIPs or wealthy individuals as the situation demands”.
However, whatever the case may be these security agencies are required to declare their firearms for re-licensing before the above mentioned date”, he said.
Meanwhile, the defence authorities along with other State agencies are working on a program to recover to hundreds if not thousands of firearms that were issued to politicians across the political divide since the 1988 disturbances. An assortment of firearms was issued to politicians even at the lowest level owing to threats to themselves and their families during the Janatha Vimukthi Permuna (JVP) uprising in the late 1980’s, the official said.
“A large number of these firearms remain unaccounted to date and many may even have fallen into criminal hands and this is worrisome while some of the original owners may even be deceased’, he said.