Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Letter of the Day | Don't smear FLA reputation with broad brush

Published:Saturday | November 26, 2016 | 11:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

Recent revelations from the Patrick Powell case have brought to the fore the inefficiencies of the executive agency responsible for the licensing of firearms in Jamaica, the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA).

An irresponsible statement from our minister of national security, Robert Montague, labelled the FLA "broken and corrupt". While we may not be privy to the same information that the minister has, it is clear that his statement was not beneficial to the FLA and the wider local gun community.

One could argue his remarks were a veiled attempt to throw cold water on the former minister's tenure as security minister in a bid to score political points.

We also believe that context and perspective are important. The licensing and issuing of firearms in Jamaica is now a much smoother process than it was 10 years ago, and even without being privy to information of the inner workings of the FLA, the improvements are irrefutable.

Licensed firearm holders are no longer required to walk around with big, cumbersome books for identification. These have since been replaced with a secure ID card. Application processing for firearms, which traditionally took four or five years, now takes a little over a year, and in some instances even less.

Ballistics are also routinely done for every new firearm purchased since 2007, and the renewal process is now significantly easier. Extensive background checks are conducted on all candidates, and biometric data is shared with local law enforcement and international counterparts to ensure candidates do not have criminal records overseas.

 

NUMEROUS IMPROVEMENTS

 

Throughout the lifetime of the agency, there have also been numerous other improvements.

The actions of a small group of corrupt agents within the FLA, coupled with the minister's utterances, caused the United States to temporarily ban the import of firearms to Jamaica. This action comes at great economic consequence to Jamaica and delays the possibility for honest, law-abiding Jamaicans to purchase firearms.

We encourage the minister to be more mindful of the impact of his statements locally and internationally. Take the necessary time to examine the institutional weaknesses and address them in short order. We live in an exceptionally violent country with the fourth-highest murder rate per capita in the world.

We cannot afford for law-abiding citizens to be held hostage by a few criminal elements. Let's put our heads down, tackle these challenges, and get on with the business of providing our citizenry with the ability to protect their life and property.

OUR BROTHER'S KEEPER

Local Gun and Self-Defence Group