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Gun amnesty programme will be tried for one month – Public Security Minister

The Ministry of Public Security Gun Amnesty Programme, which provides for persons to hand over unlicensed firearms and ammunition to the authorities without facing prosecution, will take effect from September 1, the Government Information Agency (GINA) reported.

Contrary to what is being reported, Second-Vice President and Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, told GINA that the programme will be tested for one, not two months.

Minister Ramjattan also noted that the programme is one in a box of options that will be utilized to reduce the level of crime, violence and insecurity in the country. “As it were, we have to do a lot more to prevent these arms and ammunitions from coming in through the very long borders that we have with Brazil and Venezuela and even those brought  through custom security,” Minister Ramjattan said.

He said that reducing the number of illegal firearms on the streets and gun-related crime will be a hard task, but one that the new Ministry is prepared to try. “We are trying and one of the things that we will have to try is this option of voluntary handing over these illegal weapons to the police station,” he said.

The Public Security Minister said that, it is important that the gun amnesty programme be given a trial in Guyana. He pointed out that the measure has been tried and tested in many other countries, and has proven to be a very useful option of getting illegal weapons off the street.

Minister Ramjattan explained that, his office is currently drafting the order to ensure the operationalisation of the amnesty, which would be gazette very soon. He said too, that the Ministry is working to finalize all the places where members of the public who want to, can voluntary turn in their weapons under the programme. He said that churches and faith-based organisations that already work with the Force on the ‘Cops and Faith Programme’ will be involved in overseeing the gun amnesty programme and collect the firearms.

The Minister also restated the need for those who have illegal firearms to take   advantage of the amnesty period, or instead face harsher penalties for failing to submit their illegal weapons within the period. “Those who are then caught with an illegal firearm after the amnesty period will have to face the full brunt of the law after (the amnesty),” Ramjattan said. He pointed out that the penalty is largely a jail term for being in unlawful possession of a firearm.