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Requirements for owning a private firearm in Kenya

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i on June 30, 2019, announced that there were over 4,000 gun owners that had not been vetted.

These remarks followed after a series of firearm misuse by civilians. There have been a number of cases including one on May 2, 2019, when a Form Four student at Mugumo Terrace in Muthangari shot and killed himself with his father’s firearm.

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8,000 gun licenses have so far been revoked and civilian gun owners asked to register a new with the government. Even with the new registrations, gun violence and abuse of license continue to be rife.

DJ Moh Spice is one of the Kenyans that lost their licenses after displaying his firearm during a party. Last week, Embakasi East MP, Babu Owino found himself in trouble after he allegedly shot and wounded a Dj in a popular club in Nairobi.

Just what qualifications did Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai and Interior CS put in place for Kenyans to own and utilize their firearms within the provisions of the law?


You don’t need to be a politician or wealthy to own a gun as has been perceived by most Kenyans. Civilians can apply for a firearm license if they meet stipulated qualifications as follows:

  • One must be 21 years of age and over

A citizen who is over the age of 21 years is eligible for application provided they can produce a national ID to back the age requirement. The process of verification takes between 8 months and 2 years.

  • Valid clearance certificate

A certificate of clearance is provided by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI). The certificate is further attached to the Kenya Firearm Act which is offered after the applicant passes the background checks inclusive of mental checkups.

  • Training certificate

The applicant must have a valid training certificate following a class in use of small arms.  Civilians can only apply and qualify for small handguns according to Miscellaneous Amendments Bill 2015, statute Law.

Any civilian found with assault rifles, inclusive of AK47, MP4, German 3 and others risks imprisonment.

The statute further says that the small arms that can be issued to civilians should not be fitted with gadgets inclusive of flash and suppressors (silencers). No Kenyan should own more than a single firearm for their own security.

  • Reason for owning a gun

The final requirement involves offering a valid reason why one requires a firearm. Self-protection is not a qualified reason because the country has a police force that is capable of protecting the applicant in most circumstances.

An applicant can however get the license as the statute allows for a special argument where one is exposed more to criminal attacks.

Revocation of licenses

On the opposing side, a firearm holder is at risk of losing their licenses when they are marked as a threat to public safety, the police and peace of the country.

During the renewal of a license, in case the original reason for issuance no longer exists, Central Firearms Bureau can advise otherwise on the renewal or revoke the license.

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Misconduct of the firearm holder is the main ground for revoking the license which may include sharing the firearm, criminal charges that lead to violation of DCI clearance, even in the absence of the firearm during an incident.

On Monday, January 20, the National Police Service said it will not provide security detail to VIPs involved in crimes.

It further said their civilian firearms, licenses will also be withdrawn.

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