Former Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee says while he supports periodic reviews of gun licences issued to civilians, neither the Public Security Minister nor the Guyana Police Force has any authority to revoke gun licences, since they are not the authority issuing the licences in the first place.
Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan on Sunday told an online news outfit that scores of gun licences will be revoked in the coming months, in keeping with a decision by the Government to weed out those that had been wrongfully issued, no long required or are in the hands of mentally unstable persons.
“It would be a massive, massive exercise, so that is the difficulty but for the sake of the security of this nation I, as Minister, will not make the massiveness of the exercise an obstacle towards achieving the purpose,” Ramjattan told the website.
He was further quoted as saying that Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud and Divisional Commanders will be conducting new background checks on licencees to ascertain whether they were eligible in the first place, if they are no longer in business and if they are mentally stable.
However, his predecessor, Clement Rohee rubbished Ramjattan’s statements, noting that neither the Minister nor the Police have the legal authority to do so, since there is a Firearm Licensing Approval Board.
“The Minister is in no position to revoke anything. The Minister in collaboration with the Police Force is not in authority to do so. You would know that the Firearms Act was amended to put in place a board (Firearm Licensing Board) and that board has the authority to recommend either repealing a licence or otherwise. The Court, however, can rule that a licence be granted to one person or another based on a petition made by a licence holder to the courts,” Rohee explained.
He recalled instances under his tenure where the court ruled that revoked gun licences be reinstated.
On the issue of conducting psychiatric evaluation of licence holders, Rohee said systems are already in place for that with renowned psychiatrist, Dr Biro Harry, being appointed a member of the Firearm Licensing Approval Board.
When asked if he will support a review of firearm licences, Rohee answered in the affirmative, but cautioned that the review must be done by the legal authority, the Firearm Licensing Approval Board.
He added that when licences come up for renewal, there are possibilities for those to be reviewed.
The former Home Affairs Minister said a system has already been established at the Ministry through which licences could be reviewed.