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The J'can licensed firearm holder ...Some of us follow the rules

BY ArmedChristian

Monday, May 14, 2018

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Jamaicans, largely, have a love-hate relationship with firearms. Their destructive force is exemplified and amplified within the dancehall culture with songs that speak about different calibre sizes, some of which, by the way, are illegal to own.

On the other hand, their life-saving capabilities are seriously undermined by the proliferation of the prevailing culture. It is hardly ever reported of firearms in the hands of good people saving other people's lives and property from theft and damage. All that is in the media is the negative use of the firearm.

We have been told that this industry is under-regulated and I want to offer a perspective as one who has been carrying a legal firearm for almost two years.

Application process

The easiest part of the process is filling out the application form. It is to be accompanied by two letters of recommendation from people who have been appointed by “Government” which include justices of the peace, ministers of religion who are marriage officers, police above particular ranks, attorneys-at-law, among others.

One must also pay for finger printing at the tax office and the receipt forms part of the application, among other things which are a part of the process.

When the application is submitted there is a payment of $12,000.00 which must be made. The applicant is given an appointment date for the taking of the fingerprint (and palm print, don't remember, don't quote me on that). These prints are taken whether you are accepted and denied; so once you apply, the powers that be have your prints.

They then arrange for an inspection of your premises and a person-to-person interview. They will ensure that one is in possession of a safe for the particular firearm type on the application. The safe must be properly secured to a wall or floor of one's place of residence. The Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) interviewer will then make a recommendation to the board.

Aside from this, FLA does their own investigations. This oftentimes takes upwards of six months, even going on for two years. If one is conditionally approved, he/she will be given a package which has quite a bit of forms for the applicant and the prospective trainer to sign and submit. Only certified trainers can submit names for the test, which is done by the FLA. Once the test is passed the applicant is sent a purchase order number with which to purchase a firearm from an FLA certified dealer. When the firearm is purchased it does not leave the store with the purchaser. When I applied, the purchase order number was valid for 12 months; however, it is now down to three months. It is then submitted to FLA for them to prepare the licence information.

The FLA then texts the prospective firearm holder to return to the FLA to receive the licence and the certificate. Once that person receives those two documents it is then, and only then, that the firearm and ammunition can leave the store with the person.

For handgun cartridges, such as 9mm and .40, a person can only purchase 50 rounds, as stated on their certificate. Remember that the firearm is only considered legal for that person once they are in possession of their licence and certificate.

Ranges

I must hasten to say that I frequent two ranges and the process is the same with both. I have experience with no others. There is an entry fee to enter the range and you must produce your licence and certificate before you pay for entrance.

If that was not bad enough, every time one visits a range the licence information is recorded along with the amount of personal rounds one is carrying onto the range. This book is not a regular exercise book, this is a book printed with FLA all over it. When ammunition is purchased, one is given a form that has the user's particulars and, after expending those rounds, the range officer must sign off to say that all the rounds were used.

But there is another part to it. The spent shells are also to be returned. Ranges hardly ever mix their brands for the rounds they sell on the range, so it is very hard to place among the shells return some other shell because, contrary to popular belief, the rounds are checked; and if one was out of place, that is considered a violation.

Range operators and dealers, at least the ones I interface with, have always practised firearm safety. They post signs all over their establishments so it is very hard to make a case that you have forgotten any detail.

I believe that their needs to be honesty and fairness in the reports that have come out in the media. The media has lumped licensed firearm holders in the same bucket with criminals. I will hasten to say to my fellow licensed firearm holders, stop allowing the industry to fall into disrepute by doing the things that we know are wrong and illegal.

The National Commercial Bank and post-Carnival issues of recent memory should never have happened. We are so armed to defend our lives and property, as well as those around us. When we allow our tempers to remain unchecked we open ourselves to allowing the public to see us as trigger-happy, lawless people. Let us allow integrity and prudence to be what we are known for.

These are just my two cents.

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