Over 20 guns turned in under amnesty, says Chang

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Over 20 guns have been turned in under the gun amnesty that has been in force since November 5.

The disclosure was made on Tuesday by the Minister of National Security, Dr Horace Chang as he responded to questions at a Jamaica House press briefing where Prime Minister Andrew Holness declared a state of emergency for several parishes in an effort to rein in murders and gang activities.

Chang, who is also the deputy prime minister, explained that the majority of the firearms handed over so far were what he termed “legacy firearms” or those which an individual may have inherited from a relative.

“There are many individuals in Jamaica who may have inherited a firearm from their grandfather, their father; they have acquired it by some other means, usually by legacy,” said Chang. He said such firearms are usually old, with some not being licensed for several years.

“We did not want any of those categories to get caught in the net that we’re putting out there for illegal firearms and we’ve seen a number of them coming in. 

I think so far we’ve gone well over 20; they’re largely (coming from) individuals who may have had a firearm locked away in their safe,” the security minister explained.

He pointed to media reports of one woman who handed over a firearm which belonged to her husband and which she had not licensed in over 20 years, as well as a man in Montego Bay, St James who indicated that he was getting old and had not licensed his firearm for a number of years and so decided to turn in his weapon.

“That kind of firearm has been coming in and I’m satisfied with that because we do not wish for any of those individuals to be caught in the new net we’re setting out there for illegal firearms,” Chang emphasised.

He was referring to the new Firearms Act which took effect last month and which will see more punitive sentences ranging from 15 years to life imprisonment for persons found in possession of, trafficking, manufacturing and stockpiling firearms among other breaches of the Act.

The two-week amnesty, which ends at midnight on November 19 ensures that those who want to hand over a weapon and/or ammunition can do so without fear of prosecution. 

Weapons may be handed into any sub-officer or officer in charge at any police station islandwide or persons may utilise the services of an attorney-at-law to turn over the weapon.

To avoid being arrested and charged, persons are asked to call the station ahead of turning up with the weapon, Chang said.

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