After the 14 Riverside attack that left 21 people dead and 28 others injured, security operatives have swung into action and several suspects have been arrested and are helping the police with investigations.
The attack, however, has given birth to a discussion among different quarters with some suggesting that the government should arm private security guards. The government seems to be buying into the idea too which I think is misplaced and will be more disastrous than the matter at hand.
The push to arm private guards seems not to be aimed at securing the country but enriching the few, corrupt and greedy individuals within and without the governments. It seems people are pushing for this so that their gun-selling businesses can thrive. It is not about Kenyans. It is about the usual corrupt individuals.
In 2013, Kenya had a total of 17 gun dealers. Currently, the number of gun dealers has gone up to 30. Word has it that already one dealer has imported 300,000 guns. Are these people pushing to widen the market for their ‘goods’?
Again, what kind of security guards are we going to arm? The same we see on the streets daily? The same we pathetically pay? The same who only go through normal training without any paramilitary skills? If these are the people we desperately want to arm, then there is a disaster in waiting.
Most of these guards earning between 5,000 shillings and 15,000 shillings. Imagine giving such a person a gun? What will stop him or her from using the gun to earn more in order to supplement his peanuts? Tell me what will keep them out of crime?
This is what bound to happen if we shall arm private guards: the rate of crime will spike because more guns will be in the hands of the civilians. Most of these guards will also hire their guns out to criminals, this is the truth that we cannot run away from. Cases of people dying as a result of gun violence due to poor stress management will also be on the rise. Basically, we are trying to solve a wound that needs a minor surgery by chopping off the whole body part.
If it is about arming extra people for extra security, why not think of the National Youth Service (NYS)? They have paramilitary skills and the government can engage their services in taking care of strategic places like hotels and other places that are potential for an attack.