Police Commissioner, Major General Antony Anderson, has hailed the passage of the new Firearms (Prohibition, Restriction and Regulation) Act in Parliament this week, declaring that citizens will no longer have to “worry” about violent criminals with illegal guns.
The senior lawman said the Act will enable the police to remove violent criminals from the streets for up to 15 years.
“It (the new Firearms Act) is on its way to the Senate. What that means is that those people in the illegal gun trade, whether you possess it, traffic it, transport it, bring it into the country or whatever you do it, you will be facing sentences of 15 years and upwards,” said Anderson.
He was speaking to officers and members of the religious community in Westmoreland on Thursday, two days after the Act was passed without amendment in the House of Representatives.
“This will have significant impact,” the commissioner said further of the new Firearms Act.
According to him, persons will “no longer have to worry” about the person who they saw with an illegal gun once the new Firearms Act becomes law.
“It means that the guy who you saw with the gun and (he) gets caught, you won’t have to worry about him for a long, long time.
“That is first, as police officers, that will make a huge difference, because the team in Westmoreland (for example) has seen these guys like a revolving door,” stated Anderson.
He lamented that individuals have been in and out of police custody, where they have been charged with illegal firearms; they pay their fines and spend approximately a year in prison.
“… And then they are back out to do the same things that they were doing,” added Anderson.
The new Act will repeal and replace the Firearms Act of 1967. It addresses the current criminal landscape in Jamaica, and presents a strong response to the proliferation of illegal firearms in the country.
This was outlined by National Security Minister, Dr Horace Chang, in Parliament during the final debate on the Act.
He highlighted that the consequential amendments made to the Offences Against the Person Act will increase penalty provisions for Sections 13, 16 and 17 by including a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years for offences involving the use of a firearm.
In addition, under section 20(2), the mandatory sentence has been increased from 15 years to 20 years, in keeping with the proposed penalty regime in the current Bill.