Licensed firearms should only be used as a last resort – ACP
Persons who carry licensed firearms are being warned that the use of the weapon should be a last resort and is not allowed in certain situations.
The advice has come from Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Richard Browne, who told SEARCHLIGHT recently that a person is granted a firearm license on the premise that he or she will use it for the protection of his life or property.
The question was asked of ACP Browne after SEARCHLIGHT learnt that there have been several instances where legal firearms seem to have been used unlawfully.
One incident of road rage saw one of the parties involved accusing the other party of drawing a firearm and pointing it at him, while a beachgoer at the Sion Hill beach reported that a licensed firearm holder shot at trees while standing on the beach.
A resident living in an affluent neighbourhood also spoke of an incident in which a group of men discharged multiple guns in the public road after the funeral of a former resident of the area.
ACP Browne said that a firearm can be used by a permit holder if his/her property is threatened or his/her life is in danger, or the life of someone else is in danger.
“…But firearm usage is really a last resort. You’re supposed to only use your firearm as a last resort. If you can subdue somebody who is offending you in a way to say that they are attacking you or they have committed some grave offence and you can subdue the person without the use of a firearm then you supposed to do that,” stated the Assistant Commissioner.
He said that if someone owns property and someone else is attempting to burglarize that property or if a person is inside his/her house or property and someone enters the property by an unlawful means, the homeowner has all right to protect his/her property once he/she is fearful that his/her life is in danger.
It was also noted by the ACP that it is illegal to discharge one’s firearm within a hundred yards of a public place unless it is being done in protection of one’s life or property. Property includes anything that is on one’s person.
“Maybe somebody wants to snatch your chain and they have a knife and you are fearful for your life then you have the right to use your firearm. But again, you must use it with discretion.
“Someone who is running away from you, let’s say in a chain grabbing incident is not a threat to you if they are running away, so therefore you should not use a firearm,” explained ACP Browne who has over 30 years experience as a police officer.
He added that even with police officers, if a person commits an offence and they are running away from the police, a police officer is not supposed to fire their weapon at the individual who is running away.
“If the individual is injured, they can be charged, even a police officer can be charged. And even if you are a licensed firearm holder, … you can be charged if you are not using the firearm in respect of what it was issued to you for,” the ACP warned.
He said that charges can include wounding, attempted murder, discharging a firearm with intent to injure or discharging a firearm in a public place.
“If you are in a situation where someone has a knife, cutlass or firearm attacking someone and you are fearful for the life of the individual then you can use your firearm,” the ACP further noted.
Giving a scenario, he said that if a mentally unstable person damages your property and he/she has no weapon and does not attack you, there is no reason for you to use your firearm as in this case, the law has to take its course there.
He is also calling on persons to try their best to always keep their gun on them if they have a license to do so as to lower the possibility of losing it during a burglary or theft situation.
“A person must carry their firearm at all times in a concealed area on their person and if they are doing that, they should also walk along with their firearm license.
“But if you are going to a public function, a party, why carry a firearm? There is no need for you to carry a firearm if you are going to let’s say a wet fete or a carnival show,” ACP Browne stated.
He said that in his opinion, a firearm in itself makes a person feel stronger, and persons intend to want to use a firearm unlawfully in situations that can arise in a party or fete.
The ACP noted that usually, the police will have an outpost at certain venues where persons can turn over their guns and retrieve them after the show.
He said that persons can also leave their weapon at the closest police station if they are going into a party setting or if they are leaving the country.
ACP Browne also noted that persons are only allowed to keep 50 rounds of ammunition, and failure to renew a firearm license at the stipulated date means that a person can be charged with an offence.
“Without the license renewed, that means you do not have a license to keep it,” said the ACP who is also encouraging persons to not leave their guns in their vehicles. He said that persons must have a safe at home.
If a firearm is taken from a person during a robbery or it is lost, the incident must be reported to the police and then the Firearms Board will decide if the person will be reissued with a weapon after an investigation.
“The issuing of a firearm license does not give the holder the authority to use the firearm willy nilly in the public…let’s say because you and somebody may have an argument and maybe you figure somebody give you a bad drive and you want to confront that individual who give you the bad drive and you pull your firearm, that is not supposed to happen,” stated Browne.