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Attorney: Follow Jamaica’s gun licence procedure

Published: 
Sunday, May 20, 2018
Ceron Richards, President of the Prison Officers’ Association makes his contribution during the meeting. PICTURES RALPH BANWARIE

Attorney Larry Lalla has suggested to the business community of Arima and other organizations that they should lobby for legislative change in issuing firearms.

He said in Jamaica the power given to the Commissioner of Police (CoP) to issue firearms to citizens was taken away and placed in the hands of an independent body.

Lalla said T&T should follow the example of Jamaica, which in 2005 set up a Firearm Licensing Authority, which took away the discretion that their Commissioner of Police had in relation to the issue of Firearm User’s Licenses (FULs).

He said this was done because of allegations of bribery by successive CoPs and they did not do their job in a transparent manner.

He was speaking at the Arima Business Association’s (ABA) Firearm User’s Licence meeting at the Arima Town Hall, on Friday.

Lalla said “We no longer live in the dark ages and it’s time we get a better system in place so members of the public can access information.

“We should not be subjected to the whims and fancies of an individual or a commissioner and his policy in the granting of firearms in T&T.

“The law stated in the Firearms Act does not allow any commissioner to have any policy. This is the law and he (CoP) should carry out the law, regardless of what is his individual opinion on the granting of firearms.”

He said the other issue was that applicants did not receive a receipt when they submitted their firearms applications.

Lalla advised that the first thing an applicant should do was to file a Freedom of Information application so that his lawyer can have proper information to take to court.

Addressing members of the audience, he said that it was very important for citizens to ensure that all of their office holders from the highest to the lowest perform as they should.

He said according to the law, quoting Sect 16 of the Firearms Act, every citizen in this country, regardless of background, had the right to apply for a firearm and should be treated fairly.

Lalla said Ag CoP Stephen Williams was in breach of the law by having firearms’ licences sitting on his desk for years with no response to applicants.

He said what Williams was doing was insulting Parliament, because the law was declared by Parliament.

Lalla said Parliament never gave the CoP the right to defer people’s application for a firearms licence.

He said Williams was doing this because he did not want too many people having a firearm and this was not his decision to make, he did not have that power and was acting in an unconstitutional manner.

—reporting by RALPH BANWARIE

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