A circular from the Firearms unit of the TTPS with amended criteria for air rifle permits has prompted Extreme Hunters of Trinidad and Tobago to contemplate legal action against the police service.
The circular made its rounds on social media and has been met with resistance.
The one-page document stated that the age to apply would be 25 years and over and the permit authorises the holder to purchase and operate one .177 smooth bore air rifle locally and it will be non-transferable and does not authorise the sale of air rifles.
Typically, people under the age of 25 use air rifles for competitions and even hunting.
Speaking to Guardian Media, president of Extreme Hunters of Trinidad and Tobago, Alex Bedassie, who leads the largest group of hunters in the country, said, “it is a travesty that all of a sudden they just review the policy and as far as to our understanding that is not law and that the law does not provide for air weapons as per Chapter 16 of the Firearms Act, it clearly states that air weapons are not classified as a firearm.”
He added: “These changes in the criteria will affect the opening of the new hunting season negatively because the first thing they would not have is the tools to hunt and a lot of young people are entering into hunting from a very young age and they use air rifles and this will also affect income for so many persons during the season.”
Bedassie said there was no consultation and no meeting with stakeholders before the new policy was revealed. The Extreme Hunters head said members are in support of petitioning the police service.
“We have contacted our lawyer Gerard Ramdeen and we will have him write to the legal department of the TTPS. In my time hunting, there were persons who had access to air rifles below the age of 18, there was never a policy on air rifles there was no law, so we had young members coming to the range who were 12 and 13 using air rifles, there was never an age restriction,” he explained.
Bidassie said air rifles are used not only for hunting, but also for competitions at regional, national, and even international levels and people under the age of 25 are the ones who largely use this type of weapon.
But in an immediate response, acting Commissioner of Police Mc Donald Jacob said the TTPS did not make any changes to law when it comes to air rifles.
“There is no intent by the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service or the Commissioner or the Commissioner’s office to make any such changes. What is unauthorised are some basic recommendations made by a person in the firearm section, from my understanding someone took a photo of it and released it on social media. The laws of Trinidad and Tobago do not change in that way, I want to give them the assurance that there is nothing authorised by the Commissioner of Police or any entity at this point regarding that process that has to be followed in the firearms act.”