Tue | Jul 23, 2024

Country told to brace for ‘draconian’ firearms legislation

Published:Wednesday | June 19, 2024 | 12:11 AM
Grenada Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell
Grenada Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell


Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell has described as ‘draconian” the new firearm legislation that is intended to go into effect on August 1, this year.

The amended legislation provides for a maximum jail term of 40 years for anyone found guilty of gun related crimes.

“We are going to Parliament to debate it next week Tuesday and Wednesday, the changes to the sentencing for persons caught with unlawful firearms are going to be draconian,” Mitchell told a town hall meeting that forms part of the activities marking the second anniversary of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) election victory.

Two other meetings are scheduled to take place by June 23, the actual date of the electoral victory when the party defeated the New National Party (NNP) that had controlled all 15 seats in the legislature.

“The sentencings are going to move from fines and six months imprisonment to a minimum of five and 10 years imprisonment, to in some cases to 20 and 40 years maximum imprisonment,” Mitchell told supporters at the meeting held in the parish of St Andrew on Monday.

Besides the increase in penalties, the new legislation also restricts magistrates from granting bail for firearm related offences. Bail will only be granted through a High Court Judge.

The amendment also provides for a person who is in the company of another person who uses or attempts to use a firearm or ammunition to commit, ... to also be in possession of the firearm or ammunition once a reasonable excuse cannot be provided to the court.

“A person who is proved to have in his or her possession or control any vehicle, vessel, aircraft or other means of transport in or on which is found any firearm or ammunition shall, in the absence of reasonable excuse, be deemed to have in his or her possession that firearm or ammunition, as the case may be,” according to the proposed amended Firearms Act.

Prime Minister Dickon, who is also the minister of national security, said that data is showing a significant increase in gun-related crimes on the island while other criminal activities are plummeting.