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Opposition demands immediate removal of FLA board, executive

Published:Saturday | July 29, 2017 | 12:00 AM

The Opposition is calling for the immediate removal of the board and leadership of the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) following reports that the agency has granted gun permits to individuals deemed to be involved in lottery scamming, gun running and other serious crimes.

The Opposition also wants a full and complete investigation by the Major Organised Crime and Anti Corruption Agency or the Jamaica Constabulary Force.

In a statement, the Opposition said placing licensed guns in the hands of criminals is taking sides with the lawless against law-abiding citizens.

"With the nation gripped in fear on account of the high murder rate, this development suggests that this government, while making pronouncements against crime and violence is actually supporting the efforts of known criminal elements by providing them with legal firearms," an Opposition spokesperson said.

Yesterday, the National Security Ministry summoned the FLA board to a meeting and later announced that the head of the Firearm Licensing Appeal Board, Justice Seymour Panton would undertake a review.

In the meantime, the Opposition says it has long had concern about the composition of the current FLA board.

"When the former board was disbanded and a new body appointed last year, known political activists were called upon to serve," said the Opposition spokesperson.

"At the time, the PNP pointed out that this development was opening the flood gates for corruption and partisan influences to take over the very sensitive operations of the FLA."

The Opposition says the replacement of the technical leadership of the agency, with political facilitators, including three former Jamaica Labour Party candidates as chairman, deputy chairman and CEO, will always make the decisions of the organisation suspicious.

"The fact that individuals who were rightly refused licenses on police recommendation, were given permits, signals that those responsible, do not hold the nation’s best interest at heart. Those who issue the permits to criminals must themselves be held to account," the Opposition spokesperson said.

The Opposition is demanding that the Montague and the Prime Minister, act urgently and responsibly in this situation.