KINGSTON,Jamaica, February 24, -Prime Minister Andrew Holness has announced that the National Security Council (NSC) today had important discussions with a view to making adjustments to the operations of the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA), following reports of alleged impropriety in the issuing of gun permits.
There have been claims and counterclaims by the head of the FLA, Shane Dalling, and former deputy chairman, Dennis Meadows, that licences were granted under suspicious circumstances and, in some cases, to people with criminal backgrounds.
A media release from Jamaica House indicated that a meeting of the National Security Council discussed a number of issues surrounding the issue of licenced firearms to individuals. The discussions included:
- The process of application for firearms
- The ineligibility criteria (who cannot apply for a firearm)
- The approval process for firearms
- The mainstreaming of the intelligence agencies in the approval process
- The removal of residual discretion of ministers to approve firearm licenses
- The introduction of new technologies for the marking and tracing of firearms and ammunition
- A new and more and in-depth system of vetting of persons at both the FLA and the Jamaica Customs Agency
- The changing of the requirement to serve on the board of the FLA to include a fit and proper criterion
Speaking at the official groundbreaking ceremony for the Stony Hill Police Station, Holness said that in short order, there will be a fulsome report on the final decisions of the NSC regarding the matters discussed.
He announced that FLA will provide the first provisioning of the “Get Every Illegal Gun” Fund, of 25 million dollars. In addition, the Jamaica Customs Agency will be formally brought into the Get Every Illegal Gun Campaign.
Holness said the inclusion of the Jamaica Customs Agency under this campaign, means there will be an increased focus on ensuring that no illegal gun can penetrate Jamaica’s ports. “It is time that we get tough on the internal collaborators and facilitators who are allowing illegal guns to come into our country,” the Prime Minister said.
These facilitators profit from illegal guns coming in, while other Jamaicans die. It is time, he said, that these persons face serious consequences for their actions. In this regard, the Prime Minister has issued a strong warning to these actors, that without fear or favour, the Government will be looking very seriously and very closely at the operations of the entity, Holness continued.
He said in the same way that the Anti-Gang Taskforce has been mobilised and has been reaping successes, the Get Every Illegal Gun Campaign is being expanded to incorporate Customs to capture every possible entry point for illegal guns and is also reaping successes.
The Prime Minister again urged every Jamaican to share what they know about illegal guns with the security forces at 119, 311 and the JDF Tip line at 876 837 8888.