Make 30 qualification age for gun permit
THE EDITOR, Sir:
There has been much anguish and distress about the revelation that licensed firearms may have found their way into the hands of persons of dubious character. I don't share these sentiments.
My understanding is that when the FLA was established, one of its mandates was to get ballistic records of all licensed firearms, essentially getting the fingerprint of all these weapons. This was a simple enough exercise to undertake because all that needed to be done was that when licences were renewed or issued, the taking of this record would be a condition for the renewal or issuing of a licence.
It follows then it would be an idiotic licensed firearm holder who would use his licensed firearm to shoot someone because forensic analysis would very likely match his weapon to the ballistic record of the warhead recovered from the victim.
Additionally, it is a fact that the authorities have been unable to limit the availability of illegal firearms on the streets, and persons with malicious intent can easily rent or buy a firearm to carry out whatever illicit activity they wish to undertake.
I also have an issue with the licensing system for firearms as now obtains. The current system is a relic of slavery and colonialism. It originates from when the landed slave owners needed firearms to subjugate the slaves. With the abolition of slavery, it morphed into a system where gun ownership was restricted to the landed white elite who needed to protect their lives and property from the newly freed majority coloured population, which they perceived as potentially hostile.
There is too much unfettered discretionary power in the hands of those who have the authority to grant gun licences, which lends itself to corruption.
The governing principle for new legislation should be that every Jamaican, on reaching the age of 30, be entitled to be issued with a firearm licence if they wish. Of course, this would be subject to persons having a violence-free criminal record, among other things. The reason I've chosen 30 is that most persons would have, by then, demonstrated whether or not their character merits responsibility to handle a firearm.