Consignment of Firearms and Ammunition Weighing 492kg Arrived into Samoa by ANZ Air Freight

Laauli addressing SSIG led portestors outside Courthouse Mulinuu on Friday 14 May 2021. Photo: Jaleen Tupai.

Translated from FaaSamoa by Ganasavea Manuia. Apia Samoa. The consignment of guns and ammunition belonging to the son of FAST Party Chairman Laaulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao Fosi Schmidt which arrived into Samoa last week, comprised two cartons weighing a total of 492kg.

Faamati Specials at SSAB.

Purchased from Gun City Limited, Cranford Street, Papanui Christchurch, the consignment was air freighted via Air New Zealand as shown on the Airway Bill.

The consignment, which police say has all the proper licensing and permits, comprised two separate cartons imported under Air New Zealand’s Approval Number: 23013JW.

One carton has dimensions of 124m x 114m x 46m while the other has dimensions of 134m x 142m x 109m.

According to a police statement reiterated by Commissioner Auapaau Logoitino Filipo and Deputy Commissioner Papalii Monalisa Tiai-Keti, the consignee of the shipment is an authorised licensed dealer.

Police added in their public statement that all proper import permits were granted pursuant to Section 3 of Samoa’s Arms Ordinance 1960, and the shipment was being held at customs awaiting final checks in the import process. Sources say the shipment was released to the consignee last Friday.

Section 3 of Samoa’s Arms Ordinance 1960:

Police did not disclose who the authorised dealer was, however, the Hon Minister of Agriculture and Chair of the ruling FAST party, Laaulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao Fosi Schmidt, did confirm the consignment belongs to his son who holds a dealer’s import and sellers license.

Faamati Specials at Le Well, Savalalo.

Laaulialemalietoa said he has held a dealer’s license to import and sell firearms and ammunition for many years.

When he entered Cabinet the license was transferred to his son Leuatea James, so they could continue the business which could no longer be under his name as a Cabinet Minister.

Laauli says having dealers’ licenses issued under Article 3 of Samoa’s Arms Ordinance is nothing new.

He says there are others in Samoa who have similar dealer’s licenses and went on to name Pat Ah Him Store and Niu Pharmacy as two examples.

Both these companies were found to have secured storage facilities for imported firearms, but do not stock many weapons at a time. Firearms are strictly sold to those who have been granted a license from the Police Arms Officer. They also keep a record of sales in a database which Police can access upon request.

“As licensed dealers, we still need to apply for a license for each firearm imported..”

According to Laauli, firearms are sold to farmers for the protection of their plantations and livestock from pigs. He says firearms are also used by cattle farmers to kill cows for slaughtering.

Clearance Sale at SOS Togafuafua. Call (685) 21623. 

License holders issued under S3 of the Samoa Arms Ordance 1960 are required to prove it is for sports or farming.

In Samoa, private ownership of shotguns and rifles is restricted while handguns are prohibited, and all applicants for a firearm licence must show a genuine reason for ownership.

The Samoa Police website states that anyone purchasing a firearm must hold a permit to do so. It adds that farming and sports are the only two reasons allowed for a gun permit.

Extract from SPPCS Website:

The latest figures published by the International Firearm Inquiry, Prevention and Policy registers Samoa as having 11,995 licensed gun owners and 17,845 registered firearms.

File image, Feb 2021: Tagaloa Todd Iosefa showing a weapon similar to that used in the Afega double homicide of 1 Jan 2021.

“Samoa has 8.2 lawfully held private guns per 100 population. Among 18 island nations of the Pacific, this ranks Samoa with Niue and New Caledonia as having the highest civilian gun ownership rates in the Pacific.”

“Although Samoan police do not carry firearms and the nation has no military, the state armouries is estimated to hold 142 small arms.”

During a 4-month gun amnesty in late 2020 early 2021, a total of 198 illegal firearms were turned in from households across the nation.

Guns handed in to SPS during an amnesty period.

At the time, then Police Commissioner Fuiavalili Su’a Egon Keil said overall there were 78 rifles, 73 shotguns, 33 pistols, 12 big bores and 2 air rifles handed in by members of the community in an incentivised programme where each weapon handed in was rewarded with a $100 tala strictly-food-only voucher – “not to be redeemed for alcohol or cigarettes.”