National Security and Immigration Committee meets over Firearm Act

The National Security and Immigration committee chaired by the Minister of State in the Ministry of Human Development met on Monday at the committee room in the National Assembly building where they held consultations with organizations and members of the public who wished to make contributions for a bill to amend the Fire arm Act, and Crime Control. The meeting began on Monday some minutes after 3 p.m., and lasted a little over 10 minutes, since no one showed up.

vlcsnap-2014-09-16-09h58m58s29Honourable Mark King – Chairman of the Committee

“As you know, we’ve been looking at the changes.  We’ve mentioned that in the National Assembly.  This is where it is being tabled for public concerns.  The public had their chance to come in, and state what it is they would like to share, in terms of the amendments itself. 

No one really from the public showed up with a matter with the issue at hand, and so the bill was passed.  So now it will go back to the National Assembly.”

vlcsnap-2014-09-16-10h08m33s150There was one member of the public who made an appearance at the meeting. Samiyyah Andrewin, founder of Belize Unboxed and co-host of Krem TV’s WUB morning Vibes, made an appearance at the meeting for public consultation on the bills to amend the Firearms Act and the Crime Control and Criminal Justice Act.

However, without knowing the process of making a presentation, she was cut short and told to submit her queries to the Clerk in writing.

According to Mark King, the issue she raised had nothing to do with the bill on hand and in a very graceful manner was cut short.

Honourable Mark King

“She was given an opportunity.  She came in.  The mistake that she made was that she didn’t bring the right information.  She did not surround her issue around the Amendment being tabled.  She  has another issue, which she must then submit for us to look at, and then that comes here.

Other than that, it was not surrounding the issue, or the Amendment being proposed today.  So she was asked to submit that in writing, so that we could look at it first. 

She did not have a concern with the actual bill that was proposed today.

The bill goes back to the House for passing. No changes were made”   

Members of Parliament who sat on the committee include 4 members of government: Hon. Mark King, who chairs the Committee, Hon. Pablo Marin, Hon. Micheal Finnigan, and Hon. Santino Castillo; and two members of the opposition: Hon. Florenco Marin Jr, and Hon. Ramiro Ramirez. They made a vote and the rest is history.

As we had reported on Friday September fifth, the bill addresses the matter where only the owner, or tenant of the premise, or owner of a container, in which a firearm is found will be presumed owner of the gun unless there is evidence to the contrary. If these circumstances do not apply in the given situation, then police are obligated to seek legal advice before preferring any criminal charges.

The second amendment bill which is being made under the Crime Control and Criminal Justice reads as such “Provided that the requirement of giving ten working day’s notice of the date of hearing to the Director of Public Prosecutions shall not apply in cases where the accused is of good character and has no previous convictions of any of the offences listed in subsection 2 of [subsection 4 (a)].”

The amended bills now move to the House of representatives for reading.

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