Sun | Oct 25, 2020

Revamp firearm licensing rules

Published:Tuesday | September 29, 2020 | 12:09 AM


I am writing with reference to the article in The Gleaner titled ”Police Federation laments FLA’s (Firearm Licensing Authority’s) decision to deny several cops gun permits.” The FLA has been in the spotlight for more than desirable reasons.

The right to carry firearms is a thorny issue, but the denial of an application is quite a thornier one, especially when a police officer is denied one. Both the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and the FLA come under the spotlight.

At the JCF, it would be assumed that necessary training of self-control would be imparted and that the members would be trained and encouraged to maintain a high level of emotional intelligence.

At the FLA, there exists an act that guides the application, acquisition, and maintenance of ownership of a firearm. Any issuance or denial or a firearm licence would be guided by the act. If, in the agency’s view, it is lacking and renders the agency unable to rightly grant permits to those in need, speak up and offer recommendations from your vantage point. The failure to grant these permits strengthens the vile and vicious nature of the criminals that abound. It also, in one sense, makes the applicant a target, and in some far-fetched imagination, makes the guns accessible to criminals. All those concerns can be addressed through the act.

I hereby offer two cents to this issue:

1. Mandatory psychiatric evaluation of all applicants and subsequent evaluations to ensure that the licensed firearm holder is taking care and caution in most instances.

2. For high-risk applicants, possibly equipping the firearm with a tracker. Also, have them maintain a log of bullets, followed by frequent audits.

3. Automatic revocation and denial of a permit for convicted offenders

4. Add additional sources of information on applicants so as to not miss any valid information or misinterpret their character.

5. Increase the punitive fines for actions in contravention of the act.

6. Put in place parish auditors and investigators to carry out routine checks on permit holders. (This will keep the FLA abreast of vital on-the-ground information on all permit holders and applicants.)

7. Mandatory supervision of competence training by a clinical psychologist, who can be appointed by the FLA, in all its offices, for timely on-hand preliminary and routine evaluation, to be passed on to a psychiatrist.

The above recommendations will make the process of application and acquisition easier and maintenance more stringent. This will, in some far stretch of the imagination, strengthen moral conduct and inspire a more orderly society.