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Firearms and Ammunition – Part 2

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Last week we looked at the types of licences and permits under the 1995 Firearms Act. This week we will look at other information that will be useful to those persons who own a licensed firearm and ammunition. We would also look at some aspects of the 1995 Act and the 1999 Amendment.{{more}}

If you are refused a licence, it is not the end of the world. There is one more chance for you. You may appeal to Cabinet against the decision of the authorizing officer.

Must have your licence/permit in public place

You are not permitted to take your firearm and ammunition to a public place without taking your licence or permit with you. If you do not take it along with you, you would commit an offence and would be liable on conviction to a fine of two thousand dollars. Under section 29(2) the police could, if you have your firearm at a public place, require you to produce your licence/permit. If you do not have it with you, you would have five days to produce it at a designated police station.

You cannot discharge your firearm within one hundred yards of a public road or at a public place except: for the protection of your person or property or that of another person; or under the direction of an authorized civil or military body; or with the permission of the Commissioner of Police. The Police could seize such weapon if they have reasonable cause to believe you have contravened the law. They could retain the firearm for the purpose of any investigation.

Keeping your firearm safe

If you possess a firearm and you intend to travel, you are required to lodge the same at the nearest police station for safe keeping. You must collect it within twelve months. If it is left for longer than six months then you must pay a storage fee and if it is left there for six more months it could be forfeited to the Crown.

Amendment

The 1995 Act has been significantly amended by No. 4 of 1999. For offences that involve the possession and use of firearms, fines have been removed as punishment while custodial sentences remain the only form of punishment. In some instances, sections which once provided for exceptional cases with fines instead of prison sentences, have been removed.

Possessing firearm with intent to injure

Anyone who possesses a firearm with intent to injure would be prosecuted under Section 18 of the 1995 Act. Punishment here retains the fine of ten and thirty thousand dollars for summary and indictment respectively and five and twenty years for summary and indictment respectively.

Possession of fire arm or imitation with intent to commit offence

Anyone who uses a firearm with the intent to commit an offence is prosecuted under section 19 of the 1995 Act. This section has been amended by the 1999 Act to exclude the fine. It carries a prison term of five years on summary conviction and twenty-five years on indictment.

Import/Export

Anyone who imports or exports or transships without a valid permit commits an offence and is liable, if it is “a prohibited weapon”, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years on summary conviction and under indictment to imprisonment not exceeding twenty years. The proviso for exceptional circumstances has been removed. “Restricted weapons or ammunition” and “other case” carry fines or a prison sentence.

The judicial officer, judge/magistrate, has wide discretion in terms of the length of sentence and fines imposed. A defendant’s age, personal circumstances, clean record, early guilty plea could act as mitigating factors to earn a discount on his punishment. Aggravating circumstances would worsen the chances of a light sentence for the offender.

Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.

E-mail address is: exploringthelaw@yahoo.com

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