Gov’t maintaining thrust to stem illicit guns and ammunition flow

April 19, 2024
Minister of State in the Ministry of National Security, Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn, listens as Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) Data Input Technician, Damion Coley (left), and Chief Executive Officer, Shane Dalling, explain the operations of a laser marking machine during the opening ceremony for the firearms marking workshop at the Institute of Forensic Science and Legal Medicine offices in St Andrew on April 16. - Contributed photo.

The Government continues to undertake a coordinated and comprehensive approach to stem the flow of illicit firearms and ammunition into Jamaica.

Minister of State in the Ministry of National Security, Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn, reiterated the administration’s commitment during a firearms marking workshop at the Institute of Forensic Science and Legal Medicine in St Andrew on Tuesday.

“The illicit trafficking and proliferation of firearms continues to be a matter of national concern which has demanded a comprehensive response involving a mixture of legislation, policy and operational improvements.

“At the national level, steps have also been taken to strengthen the legislative framework governing the regulation of firearm and ammunition, through the passage of the new Firearms Prohibition Restriction and Regulations Act in 2022,” she said.

The State Minister noted that the legislation is one of the most significant advancements made to curb the illicit trafficking and proliferation of firearms and ammunition in the country.

The Act introduces harsher penalties for breaches of provisions relating to illegal firearms and new offences, such as trafficking in prohibited weapons, and the requirements for marking firearms, which will strengthen efforts to arrest and prosecute persons for activities involving illicit firearm trafficking.

Cuthbert-Flynn said the Government, through the Ministry, continues to prioritise initiatives to strengthen firearm regulations through the effective development of policy and legislative programmes which are implemented at the operational levels.

“As an example of advancement made in the area, there is the increased detection and also the interception of illicit shipments of firearms at our ports of entry through improved collaboration among our national law-enforcement and our border security agencies and our international law-enforcement partners,” she informed.

Cuthbert-Flynn reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to continue supporting regional initiatives aimed at combatting the illicit trafficking and proliferation of firearms in a holistic and systematic way, which is underscored by the endorsement of the Caribbean Firearms Road Map, the Caribbean Crime Gun Intelligence Unit as well as other important regional initiatives.

Cuthbert-Flynn urged the participants, which comprised ballistic experts and law-enforcement officers, to make the best of the workshop which will strengthen Jamaica’s national capacity to mark and trace firearms locally.

“Undoubtedly, the effective marking and tracing of firearms will be vital to our efforts to combat transnational organised crime; as well, it will be able to trace illegal firearms used in criminal activities back to the source of origin. This, of course, will, indeed, strengthen our ability to investigate and prosecute certain criminal elements and disrupt the illegal trafficking network,” she said.

Cuthbert Flynn also reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to fulfilling its national, regional and international obligations by providing adequate resources for firearms training as part of efforts to enhance response capabilities to evolving security threats.

Meanwhile, the State Minister informed that approximately 698 firearms and 10,569 rounds of ammunition were seized in Jamaica between January 1 and December 25, 2023.

Also, for the years 2021 and 2022, the number of firearms seized totalled approximately 704 and 794 respectively, while the quantity of ammunition confiscated during the same period was 9,923 and 15,706 respectively.

Cuthbert-Flynn said up to March 2024, a total of 244 illegal firearms have been seized, representing an increase of approximately eight per cent, when compared to the corresponding period in 2023.

“Jamaica continues to face an epidemic of crime and violence, which is also exacerbated by the influx of illegal firearms that are trafficked through our borders in the Caribbean region. The data indicates that these illegal firearms are not just accessible to criminals, but firearms are the weapon of choice for criminals and, in particular, criminal gang networks, as they feature in approximately 84 per cent of murders committed in our country,” she further shared.

- JIS News

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