Monday 27 January, 2020

PNP concerned over 'granting of gun licences to criminals'

The People’s National Party is expressing grave concern over reports that the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) has granted gun licences to individuals who are deemed to be involved in lottery scamming, gun running and other serious crimes.

The Opposition is calling for the immediate removal of the leadership of the FLA and the Board of Directors; a full and complete investigation by MOCA (or the JCF) and where breaches are found, those responsible must be brought to book, the PNP said in a news release on Friday.

"Placing licensed guns in the hands of criminals is taking sides with the lawless against law-abiding citizens. With the nation gripped in fear on account of the high murder rate, this development suggests that this government, while making pronouncements against crime and violence is actually supporting the efforts of known criminal elements by providing them with legal firearms," the PNP said.

According to the PNP, when the former board was disbanded and a new body appointed last year, "known political activists were called upon to serve".

"At the time, the PNP pointed out that this development was opening the flood gates for corruption and partisan influences to take over the very sensitive operations of the FLA," the party said in the release, adding that "The removal of the technical leadership of the agency, and replacing it with political facilitators, including three former JLP candidates as chairman, deputy chairman and CEO,  ensure that the decisions of the organization will always be suspect."

The PNP argued that the fact that individuals who were rightly refused licences on police recommendation, were given permits, signals that those responsible, do not hold the nation’s best interest at heart.

"Those who issue the permits to criminals must themselves be held to account," the PNP said, calling on Prime Minister Andrew Holness and  National Security Minister Robert Montague to act urgently on the matter.

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