61% of gun licenses issued in 2020 done without engaging Firearm Licensing Board -Benn

Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn

Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn has blasted his predecessor Khemraj Ramjattan for taking a one-man approach with regards to the issuance of firearm licenses while being in caretaker mode.

Benn, last week during the Budget Debate, revealed that more than half of the gun licenses issued for 2020 were done without engaging the Firearm Licensing Board.

“It appears as though 2020 was a banner year for the issuance of firearms at the hand of the Minister [Ramjattan] without the engagement of the Firearm Licensing Board. 61 per cent of all firearms issued in 2020 were issued at the hands of the Minister without the engaging of the Firearm Licensing Board.”

While there are talks about why this has occurred and certainly it is examined and thought of as a strange issue, he said that there have been many complaints in that regard and assured that this is not a practice he endeavours to continue.

There is a three-stage process for licensing. It begins with an application letter being sent to the Divisional Commander, who assigns a rank to check on the applicant’s character in his or her community. The application is then sent to the Commissioner’s Office to ensure that the applicant has no previous antecedents or convictions.

The application then goes to the Firearm Licensing Board.  It is then decided, at that stage, whether the applicant is fit. If so, the application is sent to the Minister for the final stamp of approval.

In 2018, the issuance of gun license came under the microscope after former Top Cop Seelall Persaud bypassed the Firearm Licensing Board when he attempted to grant himself a license to open a firearm dealership as well as an upgrade of the calibre of weapons he is allowed to carry.