– also threatens to revoke scores of gun licences
– worried about rental of legal guns to criminals
The Guyana Government is worried that private firearm holders may be renting weapons to criminals and will therefore be clamping down on the issuance of gun licences to civilians.
And in the fullness of time, government wants firearms to be in the hands of primarily law enforcement officers.
This is according to President David Granger, who indicated that private citizens should depend on the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) and the Guyana Police Force (GPF) for protection.
“We would like to see fewer weapons in the hands of private citizens. It is my personal view that weapons should be used by law enforcement agencies…,” he stated during the recording of his weekly podcast ‘The Public Interest’ which will be aired this weekend.
President Granger said he wants to reduce the number of legal and illegal guns off the streets since he is concerned that even legally issued firearms are being used to conduct criminal activities.
“We have heard stories now where legitimate firearm licences holders who rent their weapons out to criminals who will go rob somebody and maybe give them a part of the booty,” he said.
The President is also concerned about the illegal weapons entering Guyana from Brazil and signalled intentions to up border control to get the guns off the streets.
“Our biggest problem is the fact that we have a border with Brazil which is the border’s largest producer and exporter of small arms. Many illegal weapons are traced to Brazil…,” he noted.
Just last month, police unearthed a large cache of arms and ammunition in a yard in Lethem, close to the Brazilian border.
To support the move to limit the number of firearms owned by civilians, government will establish a core of wardens vested with law enforcement authority.
These wardens will be dispatched to operate in the gold mining, timber and tourism industries to provide protection to the respective sectors, according to the President.
Already, government has hiked the fees for gun licences.
Additionally, Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan had also announced that scores of gun licences will be revoked in order to weed out those that had been wrongfully issued.
His announcement followed the gun amnesty programme which saw persons turning in unlicensed firearms but police reports indicate that most of the weapons collected came from hinterland locations where residents used the guns for hunting purposes and not for criminal activities.
Notably, as government moves to reduce the issuance of firearms, families have been using those weapons as protection against criminals who are now perceived to be emboldened.
Just on Wednesday, a suspected bandit was shot and killed by a miner during an attempted robbery at his home in the Diamond Housing Scheme, East Bank Demerara.
According to reports, there are at least 10,000 licensed firearms in the hands of civilians.