President Dr Irfaan Ali announced today that he has asked Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall to work on an amendment to the country’s law to ensure there is a higher penalty in place for persons who unlawfully possession firearms.
He made the revelation today during a live broadcast message where he addressed matters relating to the crime situation in the country.
“The law will be amended to give you the greatest penalty,” President Ali declared, noting that the increases in Robbery Under Arms in some areas must be addressed.
He said government will grant a period of amnesty for persons in possession of illegal firearms to turn them over. But when this period expires and the amended law comes into play, the Head of State warned that those individuals will face stiffer penalties.
Only last month, Nandlall had contended that firearm licences should be granted more liberally “because we have a lot of people who are qualified for firearm licenses but are not [getting it]. For some reason, the system is slow.”
In the same breath, however, the Attorney General accepted that there is a process to follow.
“I know there are a lot of applications pending and one can’t rush the process because the granting of a firearm license or its refusal is an important exercise and it requires some degree with care and circumspection. One can’t approach these processes rashly and carelessly; one ought to take due time and diligence in order to access each application on its merits, and grant it if it is worthy of grant, and refuse it if it is not meritorious,” he explained.
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.
Reports indicate that there are more than 4,500 registered pistols, 3,000 registered shotguns and 3,047 registered rifles by the Guyanese public.