Posted: Tuesday, April 26, 2022. 8:53 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: With dozens of shooting incidents reported monthly, some fatal, and guns regularly being taken off the streets, the gun has become a ubiquitous part of Belizean culture.
But how just difficult is it to obtain a license for a firearm in Belize?
An anonymous writer in an email to Breaking Belize News noted that a prospective license owner must attend a safety lecture, obtain three separate letters of recommendation and make formal application as to why you need a license. All this must be turned in to Police for initial vetting after which it goes to the Commissioner of Police, who is the sole authority to issue firearm licenses. Then you must wait and hope you are approved. (The writer, who withheld his name from us on the basis of “fear of reprisal,” claims he has been refused a license three times even though he has met all the requirements.)
As the writer alleges, there now appears to be a way around the above, as often happens: “a certain licensed firearm dealer in Belize who is opening up stores across Belize, this dealer will for a fee secure your license within 24 [hours], no checks no vetting. You pay the dealer several thousand dollars and they pay the appropriate people to get your license, then you have to buy a firearm from them at a greatly increased price.”
The writer points out that if the above state of affairs is true, “who knows who is getting hold of a firearm.”
We put the question to the Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams, on Monday during the weekly press briefing. After first noting that the writer ought to have gotten in contact with his office directly rather than go through the press, he detailed the process and importance of vetting for firearms licenses and made clear that no one can get around it: “I can tell you though, certainly, that there is no firearm license that I would approve if there is no vetting. Even when police officers apply for a firearm license, they must be vetted before a determination is made to approve or disapprove any such license.” Therefore, no firearm dealer can make the claims described by our anonymous writer, he said; their information is not true.
Commissioner Williams added that vetting is done by the Special Branch and depends on certain unnamed factors.
It generally takes a week to two months on average to receive approval. The timeline is shorter if one personally applies in Belmopan as the Commissioner said he does his best to facilitate such requests, but time must be allowed for vetting and there is no guarantee as to who gets a license and who doesn’t. Application through the districts will take a little longer.
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