JAMAICA | Hundreds of criminals received gun licences says Firearms Chief

JAMAICA | Hundreds of criminals received gun licences says Firearms Chief

KINGSTON, February 15, 2022 - Chief Executive Officer of the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) Shane Dalling has charged that more than 200 criminals received gun licences from 2014 to 2017, despite warnings from the police that the individuals should not be issued permits.

Shane Dalling, who is an attorney-at-law, said  the system of granting gun licenses has been corrupted. And according to him for far too long.

Addressing a media briefing on Tuesday, Dalling said some of the applicants who received gun licences were convicted for serious offences such as murder, illegal possession of firearm, robbery with aggravation, rape, and drug trafficking.  

What was alarming, Mr. Dalling said that their background information was already on file before the board granted the approvals.   He disclosed that the individuals were from St. James, Manchester, Clarendon, Trelawny and Westmoreland.

"I'll go further to state to you that there are cases so blatant that the board denied initially that individual the firearm licence on the basis that they said the persons were not fit and proper, and mere weeks later, the same members of the board who denied the person picked up the file and granted the person the licence," he revealed.

Mr. Dalling said in one instance, a man who was sentenced for illegal possession of a firearm in Manchester, made an application which was granted by the FLA board in 2014.

"He was found in a car with an illegal firearm and was arrested by the police and went to court and pled guilty and was sentenced," the FLA CEO noted. 

The man later applied for a firearm licence and was denied in August 2014 on the basis that he lied about having a conviction. Yet, just three months later, he was granted a licence by the same board, despite neither filing a new application nor making an appeal.  

Additionally, Mr. Dalling said a Corporate Area don who was extradited from the United States was one of two individuals issued with four gun licences by the then FLA board.

"What was curious is that the board was reversing decisions of the previous board – meaning one board would deny the licence on the basis that the person is not fit and proper, and although the new board had no new application before it or no new information, they were picking up the files out of the registry and approving the persons on a ‘willy nilly’ basis, and that is how several criminal elements got licences." 

Dalling specifically spoke of one former member of the Board, pointing out that  his signature was attached to each of the more than 2-hundred questionable licenses.

Mr. Dalling says Popular Reggae Artist, Jah Cure, was granted a gun license subsequent to his release from prison for several charges despite the fact that the Board at the time agreed that the entertainer should not be granted a license. Jah Cure's licences was eventually revoked.

Jah Cure, who is currently in jail in the Netherlands for attempted murder, had been denied a firearm licences on the grounds that he was not “fit and proper”. He had been convicted of rape and illegal firearm in April 1999 and served eight years of a 15-year sentence in prison. He was released in July 2007.

According to Dalling, the reggae singer was denied a licence on June 2015. However, it was subsquently approved 10 weeks later.

Dalling alleged that the Ministry of National Security became aware of the corruption at the FLA in 2015 and, in a correspondence from the permanent secretary to the board, warned the FLA staff to cease the practice. However, he said "nothing was done to prevent it from continuing."

Dalling informed that the Major Crime Investigating task Force MOCA, as well as th other government investigative bodies have been called in to investigate and would be presenting their findings very shortly.

 Established in 2005, the FLA is the statutory body that regulates the legal and lawful use of private firearms in Jamaica in keeping with firearm safe use and handling standards worldwide. 

The authority streamlines and standardises the granting, renewal, and revocation of firearm licences and all the attendant processes relating to the use of firearms in Jamaica.

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