Fri | Sep 29, 2023

Proposal limiting firearm ban for domestic violence convicts amended

Published:Friday | June 24, 2022 | 12:09 AM
Shane Dalling, CEO of the FLA.
Shane Dalling, CEO of the FLA.

The joint select committee reviewing the Firearms (Prohibition, Restriction and Regulations) Act 2022 has amended a proposed provision to allow Jamaicans convicted of domestic violence to appeal the revocation of their licences.

Prior to its amendment in Wednesday’s virtual meeting of the committee, Section 84 (1) (d) of the legislation had empowered the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) board to revoke a firearm authorisation if the holder is convicted of a domestic violence offence or had a protection order taken out against them under the Domestic Violence Act within the five years immediately preceding the date on which the order comes to the attention of the board.

Solicitor General Marlene Aldred pointed out that the five-year period is in relation to a protection order and asked if there was a timeframe for convictions.

“There is no period for that one. If you have a time period in domestic violence convictions, you would have to indicate some qualification like attendance to counselling,” Committee Chairman Dr Horace Chang responded.

Chang, who is also the minister of national security, said there was a recent appeal that was turned down by the review panel for numerous reasons.

“The gentleman did not declare that he had a domestic violence issue in his initial application. It was, in fact, eight years, so he was not granted a licence for not being fulsome in the truth. Is five years adequate?” Chang asked.

Aldred reasoned that it appears that once an individual is convicted of domestic violence, he or she is barred completely.

Chang said convictions in domestic violence cases are not easily obtained due to withdrawal of witnesses, among other reasons.

“If he has to get it, he has to appeal to the review panel, who will then do a fulsome review – a judgment call made by the review panel which can adjudicate effectively,” Chang said.

FLA CEO Shane Dalling explained that once a firearm licence is revoked, the owner has a right to appeal, regardless of the circumstances.

“The circumstances may be that the person is appealing to the review board that my conviction was 15 or 20 years ago and I have been rehabilitated, reformed and I have not had anything since then and I can explain what had happened. The review board, in considering the matter, may decide to issue,” Dalling said.

But Aldred said she was not satisfied as the explanation suggests that the review board can go outside of the power given in the law.

“The law is saying that you are barred once you have a conviction. The review board can’t go beyond it,” she noted.

Chang concluded that the five-year period should apply to both instances and said the review panel will examine cases as they arise.