Gun smugglers face life in jail

Thursday, July 4, 2019 - 07:15

The il­le­gal im­por­ta­tion of mul­ti­ple firearms for dis­tri­b­u­tion or re­sale will car­ry a penal­ty of im­pris­on­ment for the re­main­der of a cul­prit’s nat­ur­al life un­der the Firearms (Amend­ment) Bill which was passed in the Sen­ate on Tues­day.

The bill was passed with amend­ments with sup­port from Gov­ern­ment and In­de­pen­dent sen­a­tors. The Op­po­si­tion vot­ed against it. The bill re­quired on­ly a sim­ple ma­jor­i­ty vote for pas­sage and could have been passed with­out Op­po­si­tion votes.

The bill will next be de­bat­ed in the Low­er House, like­ly af­ter the up­com­ing Par­lia­ment re­cess.

On Tues­day, the Up­per House was ad­journed to a date to be fixed.

In Tues­day’s de­bate, Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Min­is­ter Stu­art Young ap­pealed to In­de­pen­dents and Op­po­si­tion to send a strong mes­sage by vot­ing for the bill to show T&T’s “push­back” against il­le­gal guns.

The bill par­tic­u­lar­ly tar­gets re­peat of­fend­ers.

At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Faris Al-Rawi said the bill’s pas­sage was a vic­to­ry for Gov­ern­ment and the pub­lic. While im­pris­on­ment for life nor­mal­ly meant a pe­ri­od of years, the amend­ed penal­ty now means the rest of one’s nat­ur­al life.

Oth­er claus­es which car­ried the ini­tial penal­ty of “im­pris­on­ment for life” were al­so amend­ed to “im­pris­on­ment for the re­main­der of nat­ur­al life”, par­tic­u­lar­ly for peo­ple fac­ing a third con­vic­tion.

The “life” penal­ty ex­tends to those en­abling a per­son to pos­sess an il­le­gal firearm to en­dan­ger life and cause se­ri­ous in­jury to prop­er­ty whether any in­jury to per­son/prop­er­ty has been caused or not.

It al­so ap­plies to peo­ple who have two pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions for cer­tain of­fences and are faced with a third. That penal­ty is al­so for those sell­ing/trans­fer­ring firearms and am­mu­ni­tion to a per­son who does not hold it or is not ex­empt­ed from hold­ing a Firearm Users’ Li­cence and if the cul­prit is fac­ing a third of­fence.

The man­u­fac­ture of pro­hib­it­ed weapons car­ries a $1m fine and 15 years’ jail for a first of­fence (sum­ma­ry) and on in­dict­ment, life in prison on a third con­vic­tion.

The use of a firearm or im­i­ta­tion firearm in the com­mis­sion of any of­fence or with in­tent to re­sist de­ten­tion car­ries a 25-year jail term on in­dict­ment.

Reporter: Gail Alexander