‘Follow rules & regulations for firearm licenses’ – Top Cop tells overseas-based Guyanese
By Isanella Patoir
A common concern among overseas-based Guyanese is safety and security when they return to their homeland. And given the crime situation here, most them want the assurance that they will be granted firearm license if and when they return.
However, Commissioner of Police (ag) Clifton Hicken, during a recent engagement with members of the diaspora, made it clear that while they are entitled to a firearm license, they must follow the country’s rules and regulations in obtaining one.
Members of the diaspora, during the engagement, recounted frightening experiences of robberies while on vacation here.
“[Overseas-based Guyanese] are most concerned about the question of safety and security when they come to Guyana and I have talked to people, some have never gone back to Guyana,” Jerry Jailall who lives in the United States, said.
Jailall noted that overseas-based Guyanese are often times targets of robberies and other crimes and as such, “[we] would like to have firearms if [we] return to Guyana to live, as you know in the US, you can own as many firearms as you want,” Jailall said.
But Hicken explained that there are certain criteria to obtain a firearm here and it can be done via a “simple procedure.”
“Members of the diaspora, like every other Guyanese living here, are entitled to firearms, however, there is a criteria to have a firearm and once you meet that criteria, you can have a firearm,” the Police Commissioner emphasised.
The “simple procedure” the Top Cop explained is to firstly full out the firearm application which can be found at the Ministry of Home Affairs Website. The application is then sent to the Police Commissioner’s office and then directed to the Regional Commander who conducts an investigation on the applicant and that report is sent back to the Police Commissioner.
The Police Commissioner then sends the report and application to a Special Branch Committee that carries out background checks and it is then sent to the Minister of Home Affairs. The ministry then sends it to the Firearms Licensing Approval Board.
This Board then conducts an interview with the applicant and decide if they are qualify for a firearm, however, if they do not qualify, an explanation will be given.
“Like every other country, there must be rules and regulations, we have the Firearm Act and it is specific in terms of requirement so there is no preference in who must have a firearm,” Hicken pointed out.
Rajindra Singh, who lives in Canada, used the opportunity at the engagement to express his dissatisfaction with the Police Force after he would have applied for his gun license twice.
“I was told the first one got lost in the system and was advised to file a second one. It has been four years now since that second application was filed and until today, I still cannot receive a word with regards to my license being granted,” Singh said.
In response, the Top Cop said when Singh would have applied, the administration of the Force then did not see it fit to deal with ‘missing’ application and the issue was never reported.
“Under this administration, and this administration meaning this team, there is no ‘I’.
“If that happens, there will be consequences because that is negligent,” Hicken said sternly while noting that these are the problems that are creating a gap between the public and the police.
Meanwhile, there has been some notable changes to the Force and this was recognised by an overseas-based Guyanese identified only as Paul.
“Since the past year I have been here and have been a driver on the road, I have experienced a much higher level of politeness, a more educated police force on the road, I have never had an issue and it is something refreshing,” Paul related.
Additionally, Joseph Roach who lives in the US and has been a law enforcement officer for over 28 years, welcomed the opportunity to engage directly with the local law enforcement heads.
He also revealed that his son was robbed while on vacation in Guyana while his house was broken into in the US.
“Crime is everywhere, but it is how you deal with,” Roach said.