Sep 22, 2020 News
Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn, has put the former Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, on blast for single-handedly issuing gun licenses.
During his budget debate presentation, Benn stated that Ramjattan was issuing firearm licenses without any engagement with the Firearm Licensing Board, and more so, while his government was in caretaker-mode following the no-confidence motion.
The usual process for obtaining a firearm license involves the application first being sent to the Divisional Commander where a rank is tasked with checking the individual’s character within his or her community. The application is then sent to the Commissioner’s Office to ensure the applicant possesses no convictions or interferences with the law and once the applicant is cleared the application is then sent to the Minister and the final stamp of approval is given.
Minister Benn said, “It appears as though 2020 was a banner year for the issuance of firearms at the hand of the Minister without the engagement of the Firearm Licensing Board. Sixty-one percent of all firearms issued in 2020 were issued at the hands of the Minister without the engaging of the Firearm Licensing Board.”
The Firearm License Board would have been bypassed by other officials in the past, including former Commissioner of Police, Seelall Persaud. The former commissioner had attempted to grant himself a license to open a firearm dealership and he also sought to upgrade the calibre of weapons he was allowed to carry but Ramjattan had stripped him of the license when what he did was revealed.
Following this, Ramjattan decided to open talks about amending the regulations on firearm licenses. “We are giving that serious consideration as we speak. It has been a situational problematique… I had really thought that there were regulations already made that it has to come to the Ministry,” Ramjattan had told the media. He even stated that he believed the regulations regarding gun licensing could have been amended without going to Parliament, but noted that he was unsure and asked the former Attorney General, Basil Williams, for his opinion.
“I was trying to find the recent edition of the regulations but did not, so I will have to check it…I believe we do not have to go to Parliament because it can be done in regulation and not an amendment of the Policing Act,” he said.
Minister Benn in his presentation said that there were many complaints regarding the granting of firearm licenses after he took office, but he assured that these practices will not be continued by his administration and there will be accountability.
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