Cape Town - A firearm amnesty in the Western Cape would reduce the circulation of illegally-owned firearms, community safety MEC Dan Plato said on Sunday."Even if 50 guns are handed in, that is 50 guns out of the hands of gangsters and criminals," he told journalists in Cape Town.It would also encourage others to hand in unwanted legal weapons.The recommendation for Police Minister Nathi Nhleko to declare a period of amnesty followed the findings of a departmental study on the Firearms Control Act (FCA) and firearm-related crimes.Plato acknowledged there was a gun problem in the province."The biggest problem we are facing today is those losing their guns unnecessarily and illegal guns ending up in the hands of the wrong people and using the guns for the wrong reasons."He said the study was not aimed at responsible and legal gun owners.Interviews were conducted with designated firearms officers for Mitchells Plain, Nyanga, Paarl East and Worcester.It was found that a shortage of staff had a negative bearing on applications for licences, licence processing and renewal, and compliance with the act.There was also a lack of computers, scanners and systems needed for officers to capture the required information."In the Western Cape, not all police stations have access to an electronic system used to capture the firearm related data and are forced to use a paper-based system," the study stated.Plato said they did not want to criticise the police.They merely wanted to ensure the police force was credible and effective in fulfilling its functions.The study recommended, amongst others, that further research monitor the trends in firearm-related and serious crimes.It also recommended that the Firearm, Liquor and Second Hand Goods control division should be elevated to a stand-alone unit instead of falling under visible policing.