By Fareeza Haniff
[www.inewsguyana.com] – The gun amnesty period, which commenced on September 01, could be extended depending on its success at the end of the month, Vice President and Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan says.
During an inspection at the CID Headquarters of the firearms and ammunition handed over to the Police Force thus far, Minister Ramjattan described the amnesty period as a successful one given the fact that so far over 30 firearms and 1457 rounds have been surrendered.
When questioned, the Minister revealed that there is a “big lobby” to increase the penalty for the illegal possession of a firearm; however he has not considered whether he will table legislation to that effect.
“Quite frankly, I haven’t done anything to do any legislative arrangements with changing that because the law is pretty tough as it is,” Minister Ramjattan said.
Meanwhile, Commissioner of Police, Seelall Persaud explained that ballistic tests have been conducted on the weapons handed over, but they have not been linked to any crime.
The Police Commissioner made it clear that if it is found that a weapon was used in the commission of a crime, the Police Force will not go after the person who surrendered the weapon.
Persaud explained that the person is only immune to prosecution of possession of illegal firearm.
“That person has absolute immunity, so they would not be prosecuted for possession of firearm. Immunity is only for the possession of the firearm, not for other crimes,” the Police Commissioner said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, who also inspected the weapons and ammunition, pledged his support to the programme and encouraged all persons who have illegal firearms in their possession to bring them in during this period.
The Prime Minister also pleaded with the Magistracy and Judiciary to take judicial notice of the prevalence of crime involving the use of firearms.
“There should be no discretion in imposing sentences under the law for illegal possession of firearm. As a judicial officer myself, I am of the view that our Courts must review granting of bail involving repeat offenders arraigned for illegal possession of firearm or the use of firearm in the execution of robberies,” the Prime Minister said.
He added, “The Firearms Amnesty opens the door to those with illegal firearms to come forward and surrenders their weapons. In the remaining days I hope to see the delivery of more weapons and that family members of holders of illegal weapons would plea with them to come clean. We all have a common duty to make our homes, our streets and our country safer. Say “NO” to illegal guns!”