VIDEO: Gov’t tightening firearm, anti-gang laws

VIDEO: Gov’t tightening firearm, anti-gang laws

Friday, December 09, 2011

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THE Government has mandated that all licensed firearms be provided with traceable security marks as it modernises the country's anti-gang legislation as part of the fight against crime.

Following a decision taken by the Cabinet, all holders of licensed firearms will have to present them to the licensing authority to be marked when being licensed by special machines to be acquired under an agreement with the Organisation of American States.

"This is important for us to be able to trace weapons," Nelson said of the agreement at the post-Cabinet press briefing on Wednesday.

He said the ministry had engaged the services of an international consultant to develop a small arms policy for the Government to address how small arms in the hands of private persons. He said there are about 25,000 licensed firearms in private hands, apart from those held by the security forces.

Speaking of the new law which will replace the anti-gang legislation, Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck described it as "one of the most significant pieces of legislation in the fight against crime and the dismantling of criminal gangs in our society, especially in inner-city communities".

The legislation, in part, defines a gang of a group of three or more persons who, among other things, conspire to commit serious criminal offences, intimidate other persons, and who identify themselves as a group by having a common name, dressing alike, or having special marks or signs such as tattoos.

But the justice minister said, after consultation with stakeholders, care was taken to ensure that the Charter of Rights and freedom of association were preserved, and that "no innocent group could be deemed a criminal gang".

He also issued a warning to women who were involved with men or had relatives who were involved in criminal gangs to "ease out now" or face the prospect of going to prison for long periods, such as 15 years.

Nelson said there were about 200 criminal gangs in Jamaica that were being targeted for dismantling.

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