Amid concerns over Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan’s earlier warning that there would be a massive exercise to revoke a large number of gun licenses that were “wrongfully issued” a number of concerned firearm holders are now wondering whether a recent public missive by the police for them to renew their licenses, is a sinister beginning of that process.
To this end, a handful of licensed firearm holders has recently told the Guyana Guardian that they are in receipt of similarly worded letters from a Divisional Commander which demanded that they provide a list of reasons why their respective firearm licenses should not be revoked.
For them, this sudden request to provide renewed reasons to the police is something unexplainably new and can very well be fitted into some sort of unethical law enforcement policy that is probably intended to yield a particular set of results.
However, a senior official who is among the panel that is tasked with license renewal has since told this publication that the dispatched letters are a general part of the primary reevaluation process for all licensed firearm holders, whose license may have been flagged for immediate scrutiny and review.
He added that almost all firearm licenses that are suspected to be issued wrongfully will have to go through a new reevaluation process which will help the authorities to determine whose license was wrongfully issued, whether a person is still fit to carry a firearm, or whether their circumstances still require that they carry a firearm.
He further explained that new recommendations by the police would have to be made to the licensing board, which would entail a broader review of all current firearm holders’ criminal history, and the credibility of their business operations, along with any other information that would help the relevant authorities to determine whether their firearm license should be revoked.
While agreeing that some licensed firearm holders were able to renew their licenses in recent times without being assessed via the new reevaluation method, he surmised that the volume of the current workload can mean another year or two before at least 90% of the more than 10,000 current list of licensed firearm holders can be filtered.
Hence, a missed reassessment this year, would not necessarily mean that a licensed firearm holder won’t be reevaluated next year or the other.
Minister of Public Security Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan had previously told local media that the reviewing of many of the previously issued gun licenses was a necessity for the security of the nation.
He had also noted that a more detailed background check on a number of currently licensed firearm holders have since revealed that many of these persons should not have been issued a firearm license in the first place
Former portfolio Minister Clement Rohee had however criticized this move, saying that only the Firearm Licensing Board can revoke any previously issued firearm license.
Others questioned the true wisdom behind the reevaluation while citing that such a move will certainly give criminals an upper hand against ordinary citizens and those from the business community.
But left with very little or no option, several current licensed firearm holders are hoping that the new reevaluation system would not be used as a ploy for the police to have an excuse to cease their weapons or be used as a tool to target a selected few who might be cited for their perceived political affiliations.