FLA PULLS TRIGGER - Dalling fires warning shot at domestic abusers, negligent firearm holders
The Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) says it has been cracking down on rogue holders of permits who have not been paying due regard to the conditions of their licences and is urging all persons to follow all prescribed guidelines.
Among those in its cross hairs are persons who have used their weapons to threaten spouses, those who engage in illegal gun salutes at parties and funerals, and others who leave firearms lying around carelessly for children to shoot themselves or others.
According to FLA CEO Shane Dalling, the agency has punished several persons for acting contrary to the conditions of their firearm permit or licence.
“We have launched our enforcement and compliance drive and we have provided a hotline for persons to call in to the FLA to report instances of violence by licence holders. Particularly in domestic violence, we encourage persons to provide information. We have written to the chief justice, asking for information sharing between the FLA and the Family Court when our applicants are brought there under the Domestic Violence Act so that we can intervene.
“Since the start of the year, we have had around three murder-suicides by licence holders. That is a cause for concern as domestic-violence issues continue to be a part of the crime problem in the country,” Dalling told The Gleaner in an exclusive interview at the FLA’s Kingston offices last Friday.
The FLA boss said there have also been instances where licensed firearm holders issue threats via social media, to their own detriment.
“We have had persons who threaten others on social media and in text messages about shooting them. We have collected text messages from persons and carried out the investigations and have revoked several licences,” Dalling said.
Another matter of serious concern, according to Dalling, is the access that many children have to legal firearms, some bringing harm to themselves and others when they find the weapons. He said that in such cases, the FLA usually revokes those licences.
“There was one case in Trelawny some time ago where a father had placed a firearm under the pillow and the child took it out and shot the mother, killing her. There was a next case in Kingston, where a child, whose father, a security guard, placed his firearm under the bed, and the child shot himself dead,” Dalling said.
“We are very concerned about children having access to firearms,” he stressed.
Theft, loss of firearms no joke matter
“Permit holders must have safe keeping. Persons must bring the firearms to the FLA or the police for storage if leaving the island because we are having increased reports of theft from licensed firearm holders when they leave for overseas and leave the firearm at home,” he added, pointing out that the FLA tends to be tough on persons who lose firearms.
“We take the issue of firearm theft or holders losing a firearm very seriously. When a firearm is lost or stolen, that means it has been diverted from the legal to the illicit. You have caused that firearm to go into the hands of a criminal and can cause problems for the country. If he or she did not take the necessary care to secure the firearm, we usually revoke the licence,” he said.
Dalling also sounded a warning to persons who take part in illegal gun salutes.
“As it relates to gun salutes at parties and funerals, we have been getting a lot of calls on the hotlines in the Christmas period. Our enforcement and compliance teams are on call to deal with those issues. We do take the firearms and we collect spent casings, and we have means of testing to connect it to the licence holder,” he pointed out.
“Gun saluting is a very serious issue in Jamaica. When those bullets go up, they come down. We have had instances where people die because others discharge their weapons at parties. We had a case at Dam Head a few years ago when some persons were engaged in gun salute and one of the bullets came down and hit a man in his head. Four persons were arrested and charged, and we have revoked those licences for all of those persons who were involved in that case a few years ago,” he added.