‘Poverty is no excuse to own illegal gun,’ declares Holness Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has chided persons who have described the new Firearms Act as being oppressive, declaring that poverty is not an excuse for any individual to seek out and use an illegal firearm.

“We cannot be ambivalent and duplicitous! If we are serious about treating with violence and if we really want to reduce murders in our society, then we must put in place the tough measures for those who would seek to traffic, trade, possess and use illegal firearms in our country,” he charged.

The prime minister was speaking at a passing-out parade for 300 new police constables on the compound of the National Police College of Jamaica (NPCJ) in Twickenham Park, St Catherine on Wednesday.

The House of Representatives passed the Firearms (Prohibition, Restriction and Regulation) Act last week, and the Senate is expected to shortly do likewise, paving the way for the legislation to become law.

In stressing the need for support for the Act from everyone in the society, Holness rubbished arguments that he said were made by a parliamentarian recently.

“I heard a Member of Parliament (MP) – and I will put it no higher than that – say words to the effect – and I am not quoting him directly – that the Bill, the new Firearms Act, was particularly oppressive because a little man with a gun down there so… That idea is destructive!” declared Holness.

“Poverty is no excuse for seeking to have and using an illegal firearm. None!” thundered the prime minister.

“There are no freedom fighters here! There is no rebellion force here!

“Every Jamaican must be a law abiding citizen, and when we make these kinds of excuses for the possession of illegal weapons, all we are doing is empowering criminals, making it harder for these young recruits who’ve come here today to offer their lives, and who will probably have to face that likkle man out there with the gun,” he stated.

The prime minister called on well-thinking Jamaican to stand up with him against those who would seek to create excuses for young men and women to take up and use illegal firearms.

“There is no just reason to have an illegal firearm in this country. None!” Holness reiterated.

Once the new Firearms Act gets the approval of the Senate, it will move on to the governor-general for his assent, at which time it becomes part of the laws of the land.

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.