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Lesotho — Gun Facts, Figures and the Law

StockpilesGun Numbers

Civilian Guns

Number of Privately Owned Firearms

ChartThe estimated total number of guns (both licit and illicit) held by civilians in Lesotho is

2017: 105,0001
2007: 47,0002

Rate of Civilian Firearm Possession per 100 Population

ChartThe estimated rate of private gun ownership (both licit and illicit) per 100 people in Lesotho is

2017: 4.801
2007: 2.72

Number of Privately Owned Firearms - World Ranking

In a 2007 comparison of the number of privately owned guns in 178 countries, Lesotho ranked at No. 1573

Rate of Privately Owned Firearms per 100 Population - World Ranking

In a 2007 comparison of the rate of private gun ownership in 178 countries, Lesotho ranked at No. 1222

Government Guns

Number of Military Firearms

The defence forces of Lesotho are reported to have 2,4004 firearms

Number of Law Enforcement Firearms

Police in Lesotho are reported to have 5,0005 firearms

ImpactsDeath and Injury

Homicides (any method)

ChartIn Lesotho, annual homicides by any means total

2015: 8976
2013: 658
2012: 641
2011: 712
2010: 7647 8
2009: 723
2008: 752
2007: 895

Rate of Homicide per 100,000 People (any method)

ChartIn Lesotho, the annual rate of homicide by any means per 100,000 population is

2015: 46.056
2013: 33.98
2012: 33.20
2011: 36.99
2010: 39.80
2009: 37.73
2008: 39.26
2007: 46.69
2005: 37.309
2004: 13.25
2003: 13.60
2002: 7.50
1999: 50.41

Male Homicide Victims (any method)

ChartIn Lesotho, annual male homicides by any means total

2015: 79710
2010: 56510

Rate of Male Homicide per 100,000 People (any method)

In Lesotho, the annual rate of male homicide by any means per 100,000 population is

2015: 75.5910

Female Homicide Victims (any method)

ChartIn Lesotho, annual female homicides by any means total

2015: 10010
2010: 199

Rate of Female Homicide per 100,000 People (any method)

In Lesotho, the annual rate of female homicide by any means per 100,000 population is

2015: 8.9010

Gun Homicides

ChartIn Lesotho, annual firearm homicides total

1997: 47711
1996: 337
1995: 297

Rate of Gun Homicide per 100,000 People

ChartIn Lesotho, the annual rate of firearm homicide per 100,000 population is

1997: 23.6911
1996: 17.12
1995: 15.42

ProductionGun Industry

Regulation of Firearm Makers

In Lesotho, the manufacture of small arms, ammunition and/or their components is permitted only if the maker holds a valid licence12

TransfersGun Trade and Trafficking

Firearm Exports

In Lesotho, firearm and ammunition exports are limited by transfer control law13 14

Small Arms Exports (US$) - Customs

The annual value of small arms and ammunition exports from Lesotho is reported by Customs to be US$588,12315 (2008)

Firearm Imports

In Lesotho, firearm and ammunition imports are limited by transfer control law12

Small Arms Imports (US$) - Customs

The annual value of small arms and ammunition imports to Lesotho is reported by Customs to be US$14,92515 (2011)

Smuggling Guns and Ammunition

Reports suggest that the level of firearm and ammunition smuggling in Lesotho is moderate16

Regulation of Arms Brokers

In Lesotho, the activities of arms brokers and transfer intermediaries are specifically regulated by law14

MeasuresGun Regulation

Firearm Law

Guiding gun control legislation in Lesotho includes the Arms and Ammunition Act no. 17 of 196617

Firearm Regulation Authority

Guns in Lesotho are regulated by the Lesotho Mounted Police, and in particular its Firearms Board18

Right to Possess Firearms

In Lesotho, the right to private gun ownership is not guaranteed by law19 20

Restricted Firearms and Ammunition

In Lesotho, civilians are not allowed to possess rifles21

Gun Ownership and Possession

In Lesotho, only licensed gun owners22 18 17 23 may lawfully acquire, possess or transfer a firearm or ammunition

Genuine Reason Required for Firearm Possession

Applicants for a gun owner’s licence in Lesotho are required to establish a genuine reason to possess a firearm22

Minimum Age for Firearm Possession

The minimum age for gun ownership in Lesotho is 18 years17

Gun Owner Background Checks

An applicant for a firearm licence in Lesotho must pass a background check which considers criminal, mental health and addiction17 22 records

Reference Required for Firearm Licence

In Lesotho, third party character references for each gun licence applicant are required22

Gun Owner Licensing Period

In Lesotho, gun owners must re-apply and re-qualify for their firearm licence every year21

Firearm Registration

Civilian Gun Registration

In Lesotho, the law requires23 that a record of the acquisition, possession and transfer of each privately held firearm be retained in an official register

Gun Dealer Record Keeping

In Lesotho, licensed firearm dealers are required21 to keep a record of each firearm or ammunition purchase, sale or transfer on behalf of a regulating authority

Gun Sales and Transfers

Regulation of Dealer Gun Sales

In Lesotho, dealing in firearms by way of business without a valid gun dealer’s licence is unlawful17

Penalty for Illicit Firearm Possession

In Lesotho, the maximum penalty for unlawful possession of a firearm24 is four months in prison21 17

MeasuresInternational Controls

Regional Agreements

African Union

In June 2006, as a member of the African Union, Lesotho adopted an African Common Position to take to the Conference to Review the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (UNPoA), held in June 200625 26

Southern African Development Community

As a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Lesotho signed the SADC Declaration Concerning Firearms, Ammunition and Other Related Materials in March 2001. This laid the ground for the August, 2001 adoption of the legally binding SADC Protocol on Control of Firearms, Ammunition and Other Related Materials27

Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development

The Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development, a diplomatic initiative aimed at addressing the interrelations between armed violence and development, was signed in 200728 by Lesotho.

Arms Trade Treaty

The Arms Trade Treaty has been signed and ratified29 by Lesotho

United Nations Firearms Protocol

The United Nations Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition has been signed and ratified30 by Lesotho

United Nations Small Arms Programme of Action UNPoA

UNPoA Commitment

On 21 July 2001, Lesotho committed to a consensus decision of the United Nations to adopt, support and implement the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects31

UNPoA Implementation Monitor Score

In its UN small arms Programme of Action Implementation Monitor (PoAIM Phase 1), the Small Arms Survey scored Lesotho against its commitments to the PoA, then ranked it at No. 9832 33 34 35 among 159 Member States

UNPoA National Reporting

Under the terms of its 2001 commitment to the United Nations small arms Programme of Action, Lesotho has submitted one or more national reports36 14 on its implementation of the UNPoA

UNPoA National Point of Contact

In Lesotho, a National Point of Contact to deal with issues relating to the UNPoA has been designated37 14

UNPoA National Coordinating Body

In Lesotho, a National Coordinating Body to deal with issues relating to the UNPoA has been designated14

UNPoA Civil Society Involvement and Support

In National Reports of Lesotho submitted to the UN from 2001 to 2010, a history of substantive cooperation with civil society in support of UNPoA activities was apparent14

UNPoA International Assistance – Donor

Funds for UNPoA implementation have not been donated14 by Lesotho to other UN Member States

UNPoA International Assistance – Recipient

Funds for UNPoA implementation have been provided14 to Lesotho by other UN Member States

United Nations Small Arms Register

According to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, Lesotho has not declared38 its small arms exports in one or more annual National Reports on Arms Exports.

United Nations Membership

In the UN List of Member States, Lesotho has been a Member State of the United Nations since 196639

Wassenaar Arrangement

The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls and Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies does not list40 Lesotho as a Participating State

BackgroundSustainable Development Goal Profile

About SDG 16

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are 17 goals set by the United Nations to be implemented by all member states by 2030. Adopted in 2015, they outline a vision of development in which peace and security are an integral part. SDG 16,41 which seeks to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development,” includes targets and indicators focused on reducing violence (Target 16.1) and the proliferation of illicit arms (Target 16.4). The indicators – or measurement criteria – of these targets include the number of victims of intentional homicide (Indicator 16.1.1), the number of conflict-related deaths (Indicator 16.1.2), and the number of illicit firearms collected and traced (Indicator 16.4.2). In light of these targets and indicators, GunPolicy.org provides granular national data pertaining to homicides, gun homicides, conflict deaths, disarmament efforts, and marking and tracing.

Conflict Deaths

For a profile of conflict in Lesotho, select the Link icon to open an external web page from the UCDP Conflict Encyclopedia at Uppsala University

Disarmament

Small Arms Destroyed

In Lesotho, the number of firearms destroyed following amnesty, collection and seizure programmes is reported to be

2001: 3,84342

Destruction and Disposal Policy

In Lesotho, it is state policy43 to destroy surplus, collected and seized firearms rather than return them to the secondary arms market

Marking and Tracing

Firearm Marking

In Lesotho, a unique identifying mark on each firearm is required by law12

Firearm Tracing

In Lesotho, state authorities carry out43 recognised arms tracing and tracking procedures

Global Peace Index

To see where Lesotho ranks, select the Link icon to open an external web page at the Global Peace Index


Short References

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Karp, Aaron.2007.‘Completing the Count: Civilian firearms - Annexe online.’ Small Arms Survey 2007: Guns and the City.Cambridge:Cambridge University Press,27 August. (Q5)Full Citation

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Karp, Aaron.2007.‘Completing the Count: Civilian firearms.’ Small Arms Survey 2007: Guns and the City.Cambridge:Cambridge University Press,27 August. (Q4)Full Citation

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Karp, Aaron.2018.‘Military Firearms Holdings, 2017.’ Estimating Global Military-Owned Firearms Numbers.Geneva:Small Arms Survey, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva,18 June. (Q13436)Full Citation

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Karp, Aaron.2018.‘Law Enforcement Firearms Holdings, 2017.’ Estimating Global Law Enforcement Firearms Numbers.Geneva:Small Arms Survey, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva,18 June. (Q13435)Full Citation

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UNODC.2020.‘Intentional Homicide Victims.’ Crime and Drugs Data.Vienna:United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime,1 January. (Q13355)Full Citation

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UNODC.2013.‘Homicide in 207 Countries - Lesotho.’ Global Study on Homicide 2011: Trends, Context, Data.Vienna:United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime,26 June. (Q6393)Full Citation

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Petrini, Benjamin.2011.‘Sub-Saharan Africa, 1995-2008, Total Recorded Intentional Homicide, Completed, Rate per 100,000 Population.’ World Bank Homicide Rate Dataset 1995-2008.Washington, DC:Social Development Department, World Bank,10 February. (Q3812)Full Citation

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UNODC.2017.‘Intentional Homicide Victims by Sex.’ Crime and Drugs Data.Vienna:UNODC,19 May. (Q13356)Full Citation

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UNODC.2001.‘Lesotho: Total Recorded Intentional Homicides (Completed) and Total Recorded Intentional Homicides Committed With a Firearm.’ Sixth United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems, covering the period 1995-1997.Vienna:United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime,27 June. (Q1341)Full Citation

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Lesotho.2010.‘Marking.’ National Report of Lesotho on its Implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (UNPoA).New York, NY:Permanent Mission of Lesotho to the United Nations,2 February. (Q4611)Full Citation

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Pefole, Katleho.2004.‘Legislative Control of Firearms.’ Hide and Seek: Taking Account of Small Arms in Southern Africa.Pretoria:Institute for Security Studies,1 October. (Q8805)Full Citation

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Pefole, Katleho.2004.‘Firearms Board.’ Hide and Seek: Taking Account of Small Arms in Southern Africa.Pretoria:Institute for Security Studies,1 October. (Q8804)Full Citation

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Zachary Elkins, Tom Ginsburg and James Melton. 2013. ‘U.S. Gun Rights Truly Are American Exceptionalism.’ Bloomberg (USA). 7 March. (N422) Full Citation

21.

McKenzie, Katharine.1999.‘Lesotho: Domestic Gun Control Policy.’ Domestic Gun Control Policy in Ten SADC Countries.Johannesburg:Gun Free South Africa,1 September. (Q8835)Full Citation

22.

Pefole, Katleho.2004.‘Procedures for Obtaining a Firearm Licence.’ Hide and Seek: Taking Account of Small Arms in Southern Africa.Pretoria:Institute for Security Studies,1 October. (Q8803)Full Citation

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Lesotho.2010.‘Record Keeping.’ National Report of Lesotho on its Implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (UNPoA).New York, NY:Permanent Mission of Lesotho to the United Nations,2 February. (Q4612)Full Citation

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GunPolicy.org. 2015. ‘Penalty for Unlawful Firearm Possession.’ Definition and Selection Criteria.
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African Union / UNODA.2005.‘Windhoek Common Position.’ United Nations Programme of Action Implementation Support System: Regional Organisations.New York, NY:African Union / United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs,14 December. (Q3216)Full Citation

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African Union.2015.‘Member States.’ African Union: A United and Strong Africa.Addis Ababa:African Union,10 August. (Q10548)Full Citation

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SADC / UNODA.2001.‘Protocol on Control of Firearms, Ammunition and Other Related Materials.’ United Nations Programme of Action Implementation Support System: Regional Organisations.New York, NY:Southern African Development Community Secretariat / United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs,1 August. (Q3217)Full Citation

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GDAV.2006.‘Geneva Declaration.’ Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development.Geneva:Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development Secretariat,7 June. (Q7162)Full Citation

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