Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
….only 30% approved
….Ramjattan says stringent measures had resulted in low approval rate
By Svetlana Marshall
A Public Security Quinquennial Report (2015-2020) presented to former President David Granger just before he demitted Office in August shows that only 30.8 percent of the applications filed for firearm licenses was approved during the period January 1, 2015 to June 30, 2020.
According to the report seen by Village Voice News, a total of 1,962 applications were made for firearm licenses across the 10 Administrative Regions, however, only 605 of those applications were approved or 30.83 percent. This means that 1,357 or 69.16 per cent of the applications filed were refused by the Firearm Licensing Approval Board.
In an exclusive interview with Village Voice News, former Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan explained that stringent measures instituted by the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Administration had resulted in a decreased application approval rate when compared with the previous administration. According to the report, 99.5 per cent of the applications filed in 2011 had been approved under the then People’s Progressive Party Administration. That year, 183 applications for firearm licenses were made, and according to the report, only one had been refused. In 2012, another 185 applications were approved from a total of 236; in 2013, 142 of 287 were approved; and 2014, 80 of 276.
In the report, it was explained that the Minister of Public Security had strengthened the firearms licensing process over the last five years (2015-2020). All successful applicants had to be of good character and mentally fit. “The applications are scrutinized by three tiers, the Regional Commanders, the Commissioner of Police and the Firearms Licensing Approval Board. As of 2015, all applicants are required to submit VAT Returns, Taxes, Financial Statements and other relevant documents to support their applications. These stringent measures resulted in a decreased application approval rate when compared to the previous administration,” the Ministry of Public Security explained in the report.
Ramjattan said it was important to improve the system to ensure that firearm licenses are granted to people who are mentally fit and are upright members of society. The former Public Security Minister recalled the 2013 ‘Middle Street Shooting,’ in which a miner, Deryck Kanhai killed four persons including two police, before he was fatally shot.
Sitting Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn has accused Ramjattan of single-handedly issuing gun licenses, claiming that in 2020, 61 per cent of the licences approved had been done without due process. The former Public Security Minister was also accused of receiving as much as $1M for a single firearm license.
But Ramjattan, in rubbishing the allegations, said upon taking office in 2015, he activated the Firearm Licensing Approval Board, which functioned until March, 2020. He explained that as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Firearm Licensing Approval Board stopped meeting in March, and in keeping with the Laws of the country, he issued a small number of licenses following consultation and approval from Regional Commanders and the Commissioner of Police.
From January to June, a total of 37 firearm licences were issued, and of that number, approximately 61 per cent was approved by the then Minister.
“I have done the honest thing all my life, and that is, I have led the examined life, any reporter could call me at any time, and they could go and call those 37 people, who got licenses, whether they paid Ramjattan one dime or ask all the others of the previous years, whether they ever paid Ramjattan one dime,” he told this publication, while threatening to take legal actions against those who seek to besmirch his good character.