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Updated: Renewal of gun licences may not be automatic, gun law review expected

Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee addressing the opening of the National Conference for the Prevention of Interpersonal Violence

Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee- just back from sick leave- on Monday called for a review of gun-laws and said that the renewal of gun licenses should not be automatic.

Unlike the United States where citizens enjoy a constitutional right to bear arms, the Home Affairs Minister said his ministry should be given the right to decide whether gun licenses should be renewed.

The Home Affairs Minister contended that, like at the expiration of visas, renewal of gun licenses should not be automatic. “The Home Affairs Ministry should have a say on whether to renew or not to renew a firearm licence….There should be no automaticity attached to this. We have to begin taking strong measures because people with guns in their hands are taking strong measures and embarrassing this country,” he said.

Already, the Ministry-through the Firearms Licensing Board- has a say on whether applicants should be granted licenses.

“Review all those who are on record as having gun licences. We have made a special request based on instructions we have had that the Ministry of Home Affairs must have a say in determining whether a gun license should be renewed or not,” added.

He was at the time addressing the opening of the national conference for the prevention of interpersonal violence at the Guyana International Conference Centre, Liliendaal.

Looking a bit frail and sounding hoarse, he announced that he would ask President Donald Ramotar for permission to review gun laws. Rohee expressed some degree of uncertainty about whether government would get support from Opposition Leader David Granger.

 “I am considering approaching the President to ask him to let us review these gun laws irrespective of what the hell Granger might think. Whether Granger supports in parliament or not, let us review these gun laws.

The Home Affairs Minister said the time was ripe to open the debate on whether Guyanese should have the right to bear arms and what is the alternative. He acknowledged that if licensed guns were to be withdrawn the obvious question would be whether there would be adequate steps taken by the police to provide public security.

“My answer is go aggressively after the criminals. Go aggressively after those who are selling, buying lending or trading guns,” he said.

His comments came against the background of the recent murder-suicide by a businessman who was a licensed firearm holder. Rohee lamented the constant demand for guns. “From where I sit in the Home Affairs Ministry, everybody wants a gun. What the hell they want with this gun, I don’t know,” he said.

Earlier this month a gold miner used his licensed shot gun and handgun to lauch a vicious assault against civilians and police when he went berserk. He killed four persons including two policemen who had responded to that report of shooting.

There are an estimated 15,000 gun licenses.