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Firearms Act under review - Penalties to be imposed on FLA staff who commit breaches; FLA staff collect money from applicants

Published:Tuesday | October 9, 2018 | 12:00 AMSyranno Baines/Gleaner Writer
Chief Executive Officer of the Firearm Licensing Authority Shane Dalling, speaking yesterday at the Internal and External Affairs Committee of Parliament.

The Firearms Act is being reviewed and provisions are being made in legislation for criminal sanctions to be imposed on persons within the administration of the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) who commit breaches, Chief Executive Officer Shane Dalling disclosed.

He further revealed that the authority's procedure manual was being redrafted so as to strengthen internal procedures and processes to prevent a recurrence of last year's corruption scandal that scarred the authority.

Dalling made the revelation yesterday during a sitting of Parliament's Internal and External Affairs Committee, as he gave an overview of the authority's operation over the last year.

He would later indicate that more than 100 guns for which licences were issued in breach of protocols remain in the hands of individuals, noting that the number continues to increase as a result of ongoing internal assessments.

Dalling said among the breaches found when he assumed office in June last year was that FLA employees were taking firearm licence applications directly to members of the board of directors for approval, bypassing the executive office.

The problem with this, said Dalling, is that gun licences were approved before the required security clearance was submitted

"And after the licences are granted, the security clearance comes in and there are adverse traces on the individual and it then placed us in an awkward situation in trying to retrieve that firearm from that person," Dalling explained.

Chief Executive officer of the FLA, Shane Dalling, divulged yesterday that some employees of the authority had been collecting money from applicants and interfering with persons in departments that played no role in the approval process.

He said there was also interaction by board members with staff to influence gun permit applications and the general breakdown of the procedures that ought to be followed.

However, the FLA boss said measures have since been put in place to stamp out those "issues of corruption" and end the practice of employees interacting directly with board members.

But he acknowledged that a number of the firearms issued as a result of the breach remain outstanding.

"How many applications would you say breached the protocols?" asked committee member Lisa Hanna.

"Several, and we're still counting," Dalling replied before he was pressed for a more precise figure.

"We're over 100. We're doing a review of our system to see what went wrong, how, and to improve upon it, and the more we go through in terms of updating of the files, we're seeing more and more," Dalling explained.