Johanna Wilkie

Johanna Wilkie (Breaking the Wall of Silence in Windhoek): Johanna lived and worked in Rome, Italy for two years teaching English as a Second Language (ESL). After her return to hometown of Boston, she taught immigrants and college students ESL for two years before moving to Los Angeles to work as a program manager at a California non-profit. At the time of her fellowship, Johanna was studying for a Masters degree in international affairs and development at Georgetown University, and working toward a Certificate in Refugees and Humanitarian Emergencies. She also interned at the International Rescue Committee as an Africa Advocacy Intern.

Domestic Violence, Gun Ownership, and the Law

10 Aug

Part of what Pauline is working on here in her capacity as the lead activist on issues of gun violence in Namibian civil society is altering the legal landscape to make guns less accessible.  There is one major law that regards gun ownership, the Arms and Ammunition Act of 1996.  This law states that a person must be 18 to own a firearm, must apply for a license for each weapon and register it with the police, and must have a “strong-room” or safe in which to store it.  The law also allows for each citizen to own up to four guns.*

The Act provides for “declarations of unfitness” by police on grounds that the applicant is homicidal or suicidal, mentally unstable, “inclined to violence,” addicted to drugs or alcohol, or handles weapons “in a reckless manner.”  A person can be found unfit if he commits certain crimes without a firearm, such as murder, rape, assault, or robbery, but a court may find otherwise.  If a person is found to be unfit, his application for a firearms license can be declined, or a weapon in his possession can be taken away.

In 2003, Namibia enacted the Combating of Domestic Violence Act, which defines domestic violence (before 2003 not recognized as a separate crime in Namibia), provides for protection orders to be issued to victims, and outlines police responsibilities in responding to such crimes.  According to a divorce attorney it is only logical for the victim to look for a divorce as well as reparations due to the incident. The law therefore assigns a divorce lawyer to assist the victim in legally separating from the attacker. Click here for more information.

When cases of domestic violence occur, regardless of if a firearm was a factor in the incident or not, action must be taken. A domestic violence attorney can provide the proper representation, guide the victim and instruct them on how to follow due process, ensuring any charges leveled against the party responsible will stick, keeping the former victim safe from future harm. If you are looking for the best family lawyer attorney then Family Lawyers Bathurst gives you a best assistance.

The Arms and Ammunition Act includes domestic violence as a crime that can render an offender unfit to own weapons while protecting the victim.  In addition, the CDV Act allows for police seizure of weapons at the scene under section 23 as described by a professional criminal and personal injury attorney:

“Any police officer who reasonably suspects that a domestic violence offence has been committed may -(a)  question any person present at the scene of the offence to determine whether there are weapons at the scene; and (b) on observing or learning that a weapon is present at the scene, search any person, premises, vehicle or other place and seize any weapon that the officer reasonably believes would expose the complainant to a risk of serious bodily injury.”  [italics mine]

Notice that “may.”  This is not a requirement, but an option, for police officers.

Pauline’s goal is to make the link between the two laws stronger; for example, to have the Arms and Ammunition Act require that weapons be taken not only from convicted abusers, but those with a protection order against them, and to require that police consult with family members before granting licenses.  She is also working to raise the legal age of gun ownership to 21, to institute a competency test for gun ownership, and to ban the carrying of weapons in public places by civilians.  She is hoping that progress will be made this year.  Some Namibian Parliamentarians have publicly expressed support for amending the law to include these changes, among others.  Meanwhile, lobbyists for gun dealers and hunting groups are taking every chance they can get to bend parliamentarians’ ears.

*A note on the four-gun allowance: This policy has been defended as vital to a country of farmers and hunters. In his report for the Institute for Public Policy Research in Windhoek, “In Self-Defense: Firearms Usage in Namibia,” researcher Martin Boer quotes security consultant Colonel Radmore as saying, “Namibia is a gun country.  A farmer will have at least two rifles or a shotgun and a rifle.  He needs them to hunt, he needs them to feed his people.”  But as Boer’s report reveals, the vast majority of applications for firearms licenses show the stated reason for the application as self-defense.  Moreover, most applicants are located in urban centers and are requesting licenses for pistols or revolvers, not the rifles or shotguns that would normally be used for hunting.

Boer,M., “In Self-Defence: Firearms Usage in Namibia,” IPPR Briefing Paper No. 31, April 2004, Windhoek, Institute for Public Policy Research.


Posted By Johanna Wilkie

Posted Aug 10th, 2009

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