Ramjattan mulls stripping Police Force of authority to grant firearm licences
By Fareeza Haniff
Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan says “serious consideration” is being given to amending regulations regarding the issuance of firearm licences.
In response to questions from reporters at a news conference Monday morning, the Vice President said he will seek a legal opinion from the Attorney General on the issue and if the law needs to be amended, then it will be taken to Parliament.
Even though the law requires all firearm applications to be sent to the Firearms Licensing Approval Board, the Police Commissioner still has the authority to issue the license, and this was proven to be the case recently when outgoing Commissioner of Police, Seelall Persaud applied to and granted himself a gun license and a firearms dealer’s license.
Today is Persaud’s last day on the job, after serving three and a half decades in the Force, with the last four years being as Police Commissioner.
The dealership license was subsequently revoked by Ramjattan, given the fact that the Top Cop did not follow due process. With the firearms dealership licence revoked, he said he would seek another business opportunity.
In response to a question about whether the Government will amend the law, Ramjattan stated: “We are giving that serious consideration as we speak. It has been a situational problematique that have caused of recent times… I had really thought that there was regulations already made that it has to come to the Ministry [of Public Security].
“Over the weekend, I was trying, but I don’t have a recent edition of the regulation and so I’ll have to make a check of it. If it is provided for in there, and I’ll ask the Attorney General to also give me an opinion on it, if not, then we will have to go back to the Parliament,” Ramjattan told reporters.
He opined that the regulations can be amended and not the Police Act.
The law currently states that the application for a firearm licence can be submitted the nearest Police Station, the Divisional Commander, Divisional Headquarters or the Commissioner of Police.
The applicant will be issued with an acknowledgement letter by the Commissioner of Police who will then forward the application to the relevant Divisional Commander, Criminal Investigation Department and Special Branch for investigations of the applicant to commence.
During the processing of the application, police personnel will visit the residence of the applicant who will also be required to give a statement and have his/her fingerprints taken.
The Divisional Commander will verify the information contained in the application, and submit a report to the Commissioner of Police with a recommendation. The Criminal Investigation Department and Special Branch will also communicate the findings of their investigations to the Commissioner of Police.
On receipt of the required reports, the Commissioner of Police will forward his recommendation to the Ministry of Public Security for review by the Firearms Licensing Approval Board.
The Firearms Licensing Approval Board will review the recommendation of the Commissioner of Police and will make a recommendation to the Minister of Public Security, who will grant or withhold his “no objection” to the recommendation of the Firearms Licensing Approval Board.
The Commissioner of Police will be notified of the outcome of the application, who will then inform the applicant of the outcome of the application.