Roseau – The Dominica government on Thursday announced a month-long gun and the illegal possession of ammunition amnesty ahead of going to parliament and significantly amending the legislation allowing for stiffer penalties for gun related crimes.
National Security Minister Rayburn Blackmoore told a news conference that the amnesty would begin next month and the proposed legislative changes would also allow for people to be denied bail while awaiting trial on gun charges.
“A gun and ammunition amnesty will commence on the first of October, 2023 and end on the 31st of October, 2023,” he said, recalling that such an amnesty had been offered in 2007.
He said based on the current situation he felt the need to propose that another gun and ammunition amnesty “be offered to the nation for a short period.
“Let me just say that a gun and amnesty programme is a period for non prosecution that allows people to surrender their illegal firearms or unregistered firearms without fear of legal jeopardy or being charged or prosecuted.
“This amnesty therefore is directed to two distinct set of people. Firstly, those who know that they are in possession of illegal firearms or ammunition and secondly, those who are perhaps innocent custodian of a weapon, component or ammunition and possibly even unsure as to its legal status but are too frighten to do anything about it.
The National Security Minister, flanked by Police Commissioner, Daniel Carbon, said the illegal firearms and ammunition can be surrendered at any police station.
He said following the amnesty period, the Roosevelt Skerrit administration will go to Parliament to amend the existing legislation.
“Once this (amnesty) period has expired the government will go to Parliament and it will significantly strengthen out gun and bail act. Close every loophole (and) thereafter if you are found with an illegal firearm or ammunition you will go to jail for a minimum of five years.
“If you use an illegal firearm thereafter to hurt somebody…or God forbid kill somebody, you will wait in jail until the trial date of the case,” Blackmoore said.
He said when the government had repealed the Firearms Act in 2011 the intention of the Parliament was clear. (CMC)