Former Home Affairs Minister, Clement Rohee has no problem with the review and possible revocation of gun licenses whenever they come up for renewal, but is against government’s plan to conduct a large scale exercise.
“I don’t think there should be any widespread recalling and revoking of firearm licenses. That is madness,” Rohee, who is also Genera Secretary of the opposition People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC), told Demerara Waves Online News.
Rohee is worried that the review and possible revocation of gun permits would be “very discriminatory.”
He defended the decision to issue firearm licenses to thousands of civilians, saying that was in keeping with a decision by the PPPC that farmers, businesspersons and Amerindians would be given preference. “All the firearms I believe that were granted during our time I believe were granted on a justifiable basis, maybe with a few exceptions,” he said.
Several shady characters including a drug trafficker and a former death squad member, Axel Williams, had been granted firearm licenses under the PPP’s 23-year rule.
Rohee said before the PPP lost last year’s general elections, a Firearm Licensing Board, including a psychiatrist and a gun-control computerized programme, had been established to ensure there was greater control in the issuance of gun permits.
Told that Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan has said that the review is aimed at determining if licensed guns are in the hands of depressed persons, owners of failed businesses who obviously no longer handle large amounts of cash, convicted persons and those who were ineligible in the first instance, Rohee said “If that is the case, all the ministry has to do is to examine each case on a case by case basis when these things are brought to their attention.”
Rohee noted that even if the ministry revokes gun permits, the court could order that they be given back. He called on the government to publicise the criteria that will be used to rescind gun permits.
Earlier this week, the Public Security Minister said gun permits would be reviewed at the time of renewal. “It would be a massive, massive exercise so that is the difficulty but for the sake of the security of this nation I, as minister, will not make the massiveness of the exercise an obstacle towards achieving the purpose.”