Devon Dick| FLA fallout frightening
The police force is investigating the deputy chairman of the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) (Gleaner, July 30). This is subsequent to serious allegations about the issuing of gun licences. I thought I heard the chief executive officer (CEO) of the FLA articulate that the review process was flawed as it pertains to appeal against the denial of a gun licence.
Furthermore, on Monday, in a CVM newscast, the deputy chairman argued cogently for the appointment of persons to the FLA to be removed from the responsibility of the minister of national security and instead the members be appointed by the governor general. This is to avoid the FLA being seen as a political board.
The FLA fallout is frightening based on what the deputy chairman gave as the reason for stepping aside. He said that a political activist used his name to scam people by taking money from them on the pretext that he could get a gun licence for them. That scammer has since fled the island.
This is frightening because the reason why the scam worked is that the persons who gave the money thought a genetically politically connected person would be able to deliver a gun licence whether by foul or fair means.
That expectation is revealing and demonstrates why the wrong impression was conveyed by having the three most senior posts being filled by persons who ran for elective office.
This is a sad admission which confirms selling gun licences although without the permission of the deputy chairman. This turn of events could have been otherwise, the expectations different if the board were constituted differently. In an article on May 11, I recommended that the Government reshuffle the FLA because it gave too much power to the chairman, the deputy chairman and the CEO, who ran for elective office for the Jamaica Labour Party. I recommended that a present member of the board who served the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) with distinction to be either the chairman or the CEO. This advice was not taken.
The Bible encourages us to flee the very appearance of evil. There is also another dictum which states that justice must not only be done but be manifestly seen to be done. There was no need for an organisation such as FLA to be so constituted. Politicians have a serious trust deficit. In fact, Gleaner's Sunday poll found that politicians are the worst when it comes to the percentage of persons trusting their pronouncements (6%) when compared to the police (10%), business leaders (22%), media (24%), artistes (25%) and church (26%).
The FLA has to be composed carefully, having taken it out of the hands of the JCF. Ideally, the FLA should comprise mainly retired judges, former JCF officers of integrity and outstanding lay magistrates. Our major problem is our high murder rate. We are killing more people per year than when the enslaved Sam Sharpe was alive. Our rate of killings is higher than some countries in a civil war. The FLA ought to be part of our crime management system and not a potential problem.
There was also an interview on RJR's Beyond the Headlines between host Dionne Jackson Miller and the chairman of the FLA. He said repeatedly that the FLA was doing a good job. However, I never heard him give the data to support his claim. Furthermore, the chairman said that the board would not step aside because they did no wrong, but also said the deputy chairman stepped aside to clear his name. His position could give the impression that the deputy chairman is guilty of some wrongdoing, at least, more than the other board members.
- Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.