KUWAIT: New laws aimed at protecting individuals and innocent civilians should be introduced to ensure public safety, says former military man Abdul Mohsin Al-Saleh, who now runs a business – selling weapons to Kuwaiti officers. Reacting to news about a number of stabbings and other criminal acts taking place in Kuwait for a few months now, he said a new law is required to protect innocent people from criminal gangs of lurking around. Statistics published by many newspapers have said that Kuwait witnesses a crime every thirty minutes. The statistics made news in the wake of a gruesome murder of a dentist in a crowded mall after conflict that stemmed from a parking lot dispute.
That crime was immediately followed by a gasoline station murder in Sulaibiya which took place even as stunned bystanders watched. Al-Saleh who sells various military and police equipments, said the absence of better laws should be blamed for the latest spate of attacks. “As per our existing laws, private security guards are not allowed to carry guns. They are not even allowed to carry batons because authorities do not want security personnel to carry weapons which can kill people. Only the official security officers of the law enforcement agencies are allowed to carry firearms. Private security guards are not included within the ambit of the law,” he said. However, in the light of the recent crimes, Kuwait needs to come up with a law allowing private security officers to carry firearms. According to Al-Saleh, the measure has now become essential.
He hoped that the law would be revised sooner rather than later. “Such a law will lead to major changes. The authorities can decide to allow private security guards to carry weapons of a different calibre than those carried by the military and police officers.
It can also allow private guards to carry specialized guns which do not kill but can neutralize suspects. They are like electric guns. They can be deployed in a situation when one is still waiting for the police to arrive in a worsening situation.” He said the kind of crimes which occurred in the malls recently could have been potentially prevented if the security guards were carrying weapons capable of neutralizing the suspect. “The problem is that even as a crime is unfolding, the security guards would not dare to come near. In a number of cases, they watched helplessly when criminals were committing crimes but could not intervene meaningfully as they were not armed.” “The problem is that even if you have the best technology and can call the police for assistance, it remains doubtful whether rescue teams are going to arrive on time. Therefore, we should consider arming our security guards. Nowadays, many criminals commit crimes while being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you do not have anything at hand to neutralize the criminal, it can lead to some serious problem. Either you will be killed or they will end up killing someone.” Al-Saleh said life has changed a lot in recent years. “There were times when you could leave your shop open and no one would dare touch your belongings.
Gone are those times. Also, we must concede that we cannot deploy a policeman at every street corner. Malls can offer security but remain helpless because they do not have any weapons. All that the security guards can do is to call the police who arrive after quite some time,” he said.
Asked about the factors responsible for the rising crimes, Al- Saleh cited three main reasons: family values, environment and lack of effective punitive measures. “Criminality is increasing everywhere. Look at the United States. I think those committing crimes must be brought to book. The truth is that people in the police force are themselves helping suspects to get away with it using ‘wasta’. The criminals do not receive any real punishment. There are indeed laws in force but until such time that we do not follow the law strictly and criminals keep getting away with their acts, it is very difficult for a society like Kuwait to stop the rising crime graph.” “The law should be applicable to everyone, regardless of who you are, where you come from, what is your nationality or social status.
The thumb rule should be that if you commit mistakes, you will have to be punished accordingly,” He added. Al-Saleh lauded some neighboring countries that practice prohibition and have a low crime rate. “Anyone who behaves badly, put them in jail and do not allow wasta,” he said, proffering a talisman. But Al-Saleh said he does not believe that it was time for civilians to start purchasing weapons to protect themselves from criminals. “Some Kuwaitis are allowed to carry handguns, but personally, I do not think we should do that. Look at what happened in America. It happened because of lax gun control laws. Guns are in the hands of people who are not supposed to carry them. Weapons should remain restricted to law enforcement people and private security guards. Everyone possessing weapons could also add to criminality since many people are short tempered and anyone with a gun and a reason to become provoked could use it. But in some circumstances, I agree that some people should be allowed to carry weapons for self-protection.
Women, for example, can carry pepper spray, electric shock guns and teargas to protect themselves in case of an emergency.” He admitted that a shop authorized to sell police or military uniforms should not be allowed to sell these to any civilians. “They should ask for identification papers to reassure themselves that they are dealing with legitimate law enforcement officers.” “Uniforms could be used by criminals to commit illegal activities. We have to be very careful and sell these only to the officers. Even in case of pepper spray, it should be sold only to a rightful owner.” Handcuffs, sirens, military ornaments, berets and any equipments used by military and police officers are not allowed to be sold to any civilians or members of the public without proper identification. “Any lithium guns can be sold to the people as long as they have a license. Anything connected to military and police must require a license. Even sale of military knives should require a license.” Asked whether the rising criminality can affect the overall atmosphere, particularly the demand for weapons, he said, “We do not monitor such data but there is always a demand, especially for military knives. People keep collecting different kinds of military knives whether it is a fact with any connection to the security situation, I do not think so.” An Interior Ministry source who spoke to this reporter on the condition of anonymity acknowledged the rising rate of crime but said it still did not denote a phenomenon. “Yes, it is alarming but the Ministry of Interior is in control.
I do not see any reason for the people in Kuwait to be alarmed. The media is just focusing on the issue but we are still not like certain countries in the west,” he said. He said the malls and shopping centers have already been instructed to observe extra precautions. These include recruiting additional security personnel and installation of cameras and metal detectors to check whether shoppers are carrying any deadly weapons while entering the malls. He said, “There is no reason for anyone to be armed. We are playing our role to prevent such incidents from happening again.”