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(JAMAICA OBSERVER) — Chief Executive Officer of the Firearm Licencing Authority (FLA) Shane Dalling has indicated that the agency will be making changes to the firearm licensing process for security companies.
Answering questions at yesterday’s meeting of the Internal and External Affairs Committee of Parliament, Dalling explained that under the current regime gun licences are issued to the principals of these entities, not the company itself.
The question was raised by St Catherine North Eastern Member of Parliament Leslie Campbell, who pointed out that when the principal moves on, under the current regime, the companies would be operating with illegal firearms.
“The licence that is granted to an individual is unique to that individual because the person has to give account for the firearm and ammunition that is accorded with that licence. For security companies the principal of the company would be the owner and licensee of all the firearms in the custody of the company. If the individual should pass then the rules of law as it relates to company law and the passing of the changeover to the new director and principal would have to be initiated by the company and board of directors to advise us,” he outlined.
Dalling noted that the general protocol which is applied to a new applicant would also apply to this new individual.
He acknowledged that this could present a situation in which a company is waiting for two years for a designated licence holder to actually receive a firearm licence.
However, he said the FLA wants to implement a process which will make the transition of licencess from the holder to another individual smoother in instanses where the original holder has passed or can no longer hold a licence.
“We are developing a protocol to facilitate that sort of transaction. We have looked internationally at the legislative framework as it relates to these things and it is the same principle that accords with ours. What we are looking at is actually vetting the directors of the company to ensure that they are fit and proper, so that should ownership pass, we could transition to the new person immediately without disrupting the business,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Dalling told the committee that the agency does not have enough staff to carry out snap audits of the licensed gun holders across the island.
“We have over 40,000 licence holders, 23 firearm dealers, approximately 11 ranges, almost 100 security companies that are required to be audited, accountability measures to be implemented, yet we have a department of compliance and enforcement of nine staff members, including the director, to carry out that task,” he stated.
The CEO said the FLA has had to concentrate on audits for the dealers, ranges, and security companies: “It’s what I would say are the easier ones because of the numbers. We have been consistent in auditing those and keeping those in check, but as it relates to the over 40,000 licensed holders… the complement is not sufficient to be able to cover snap audits.“
Dalling noted that a review of the agency’s operations had found that 5,000 licensed gun holders were delinquent in the annual renewal of their licenses.
He said last year’s enforcement drive to get these licensees to comply earned the FLA more than $50 million in fees between June and December 2017.