Impose “stricter measures” on Gun Circulation: Catholic Bishops in Uganda to Government

Catholic Bishops in Uganda with government officials at the end of the Eucharistic Celebration marking Martyrs Day 2023. Credit: Uganda Catholic Online

Catholic Bishops in Uganda have expressed concern about gun deaths in the country, and have called on the government to impose “stricter measures” on the circulation of firearms.

In his speech during the annual June 3 Martyrs’ Day pilgrimage, the President of the Uganda Episcopal Conference (UEC) extended his condolences to families of victims of gun violence.

“Recently, there have been brutal killings or murders within Uganda,” Bishop Joseph Anthony Zziwa said.

Bishop Zziwa added, “Several people have been murdered and quite a number of them have been killed by their killers using guns.”

Bishop Joseph Anthony Zziwa. Credit: Courtesy Photo


“It is our request to the government and to the commander in chief to have stricter measures imposed on the use of guns in this country for both the security agents and private owners of guns,” the Local Ordinary of Uganda’s Kiyinda-Mityana Diocese said.

The appeal is based on incidents of reported gun killings in the East African nation in recent times.

On May 2, a Ugandan national army soldier, Wilson Sabiiti reportedly shot dead retired Colonel Charles Okello Engola, deputy minister for gender and labor, at his home in the capital Kampala, according to BBC News. The soldier also took his own life.

Last month, at least eight people reportedly died in separate shootings in Kampala and elsewhere with  an average of one fatal gunshot victim every 48 hours, Daily Monitor reported.

In his June 3 speech, Bishop Zziwa also prayed for peace in the Horn of Africa, Sudan, Ukraine and other parts of the world.

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The Uganda Martyrs’ Day dates back to the first decade of Christian presence in the East African nation when 45 men aged between 14 to 50 years were killed because of their faith by the King of Buganda between 31 January 1885 and 27 January 1887.

Among the 45 were 22 Catholics beatified in 1920 and canonized in 1964, who continue to promote Catholic life in the country and also play an important role in constructing a Catholic identity globally.

The annual celebration is held at Namugongo shrine, one of the popular sites on the Northeast edge of the Kampala Metropolitan See that hosts a modernist basilica church whose altar is above the place where the martyrs' pyre is believed to have been.

In his homily during this year’s Martyrs Day, Bishop Charles Martin Wamika of Uganda’s Jinja Diocese emphasized the need to express faith to achieve physical, social, financial, and spiritual fulfillment.

Bishop Charles Martin Wamika of Uganda’s Jinja Diocese. Credit: Uganda Catholics Online


Reflecting on the theme of this year’s celebration, “Lord, Increase Our Faith,” Bishop Wamika  said he found it regrettable that many Catholics today are afraid of expressing their faith, despite its crucial role in overcoming challenges and attaining salvation.

“Many Catholics are too shy, if you do not share your faith it will slowly die. You need to believe in yourself,” the Ugandan Catholic Bishop said, and Catholics to practice and express their faith openly and without hesitation. 

He called upon the pilgrims at Namugongo Shrine to emulate the commitment and dedication of the martyrs who sacrificed their lives due to their unwavering faith.

“Do small things in a great way. Do the obvious in a unique way. With faith there is no joking,” Bishop Wamika said on June 3.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.