Since the Fire arm act was amended in the year 2008, there has been mounting concerns due to the perception that many innocent people have been prosecuted, because of the provision that allows an entire household to be taken into custody if a firearm is found in the premises of their home.
On Friday, the amendment to that law was supposed to be moved, however, according to the Prime Minister, due to time constraints, the provision was not fine tuned enough to be moved. However a draft of it was read.
“The drafting wasn’t being done quickly enough for various reasons. I am not blaming anyone. At the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday it wasn’t quite ready, so it was agreed that the Minister and his people would get together with my favorite draftsman, Mr. Gian Ghandi, so that a quick bit of work could be done. I only then saw the finished product yesterday, and the rest of the cabinet had to sort of go on faith, that the amendments would achieve the objective that we want, and strike the fine balance.
There was a suggestion that because of the need for speed in terms of relief, we should pass it all at once today, and I said ‘No.’ Let the public and members of the Cabinet now have more time, to be able to examine the amendments carefully, digest the thrust of those amendments, and the way Ghandi has done it, it’s fairly straight forward, and see, when we come back, whether there is going to be a need to amplify or to change in any way what has been introduced.
According to the Prime Minister, the draftsmen are looking particularly at addressing the issue of joint possession.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow
“Well, they’re looking particularly at that. That is one aspect that’s being dealt with, the question of joint possession and trying to ensure that there’s not this automatic joint possession charge, looking at who is the head of the household and providing for circumstances where, in effect, you can’t charge at all if you are to avoid the mischief.
Then it’s also looking at the question of bail. When you are charged, you can’t get bail for 14 days, and trying to make a distinction and to say where somebody is, before being charged, known to be of good character, doesn’t have gang connections, that sort of thing, that the provision that you can’t get bail for 14 days would not apply.
So, I think it is getting at the central aspects of the current law, that need to be fixed.”
The fine tuning of that provision is projected to be concluded shortly after Independence Day celebrations.