The Firearms (Amendment) Bill 2023, tabled during the sitting of Parliament on November 23-24, 2023, was advanced to a Select Committee.
The Bill’s objective is to amend the Firearms Act 386 by increasing the penalties as prescribed in the Act, as well as to add (new) offences to those which the Act already addresses.
The Select Committee consists of seven members of Parliament and the Attorney General from the government side and four members from the Opposition.
Dr. Ralph Gonslaves, Minister of National Security, who moved the motion, told the Parliament that already there has been input from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the Commissioner of Police and other persons.
Dr. Gonsalves also referenced the gun amnesty which he mentioned in his Independence Day speech, saying that the Attorney General, Grenville Williams and the Commissioner of Police, Envil Williams, were discussing the mechanics of the planned amnesty.
“The details, the modalities would be announced while we are doing the select committee work and the consultation,” Gonsalves explained.
The idea, he said, was for individuals in possession of illegal firearms to turn them in, and he warned that those caught in possession of illegal firearms will be subject to more severe penalties.
“I don’t think that anyone can complain about the reasonableness of this approach,” he added.
The existing maximum penalty if found guilty of possession of an unlicensed firearm is 7 years or a fine of EC$20,000.
Criminal Code (Amendment) Bill
Also advanced to Select Committee during the referenced sitting was the Criminal Code (Amendment) Bill.
The Bill proposes to amend Chapter 8 of Chapter 171 of the Criminal Code which deals specifically with all sorts of sexual offences, and to increase the penalties for these range of sexual offences.
“I would like to put the Bill to Select Committee so that we can have individuals and organizations to come to the Select Committee and so that we broaden, deepen the consultations which have been going on,” Gonsalves said.
This select committee also consists of seven members plus the Attorney General on the government side with four representatives from the opposition