Posted: Tuesday, June 6, 2023. 1:32 pm CST.
The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.
By Abner Murillo: I first and foremost would like to commend Channel 7 News on their investigative journalism and tackling subjects that most media houses would not normally report on. In a society where nothing is questioned, transparency lacks and where transparency lacks the society suffers.
However, since my name and that of my business have been brought up by channel 7 more than once, there are several inaccuracies in the said reporting that I would like to clarify. The picture that is being portrayed is that any criminal can walk up to any firearms dealer in Belize and pay for a “guaranteed” firearm license and get a legal gun, that is simply not so.
In comparison to the United States where one can own as many firearms as they want with a simple background check done, Belize has very restrictive gun laws.
I believe that every LAW-ABIDING citizen with a clean background should have the right to defend themselves, especially in a country with such a high crime rate as Belize.For you to obtain a firearm license in Belize you must fill out an application that must include your police record. The application and police record are then forwarded to a special branch that conducts a vetting process.
The vetting process is a background check that includes an interview, a visit to your home (in most cases) to ensure that it is a secure location to have a firearm, neighbors’ questioned regarding the applicant’s character, a check into who the applicant associates with, and so on.
A clean police record does not reflect a person’s true character and thus the vetting is done to establish if that person is a responsible, law-abiding citizen with no ties to criminal activity. The vetting process is then put into a report and forwarded to the commissioner for consideration.
I have known of many individuals being denied based on their associations alone at the discretion of the commissioner. This vital process of obtaining a firearm license was omitted by the individual on your news report who claims to have paid three different people to obtain one firearm license.
Guaranteed approvals do not exist and in my opinion, one cannot sell something that does not exist. If there are individuals out there promising and guaranteeing something of that nature, then that is nothing short of deception and a matter between both those individuals.
The individual who went on the news claiming to have made the decision to pay three different individuals to help him get his firearm license faster made that choice on his own. That, in my opinion, is a personal matter of his and not one for the public. It is like publicly condemning the customs and traffic department because a car dealer promised someone to bring in their vehicle “express”, get a break from duty and have it licensed.
In my experience as a gun dealer, I have seen MANY firearms licenses revoked – for a variety of reasons. If you are irresponsible with your firearm, there is a good chance that your firearm license will be taken away. Sometimes approvals are revoked before they even get a chance to purchase a firearm for one reason or the other. An email is sent to all the gun dealers informing them that a particular approval has been revoked and that the individual cannot purchase a firearm.
The other inaccuracy in your report is that Lock n’ Loaded is selling “High Powered Assault rifles” referring to a .223 rifle shown. Only a handful of calibers are legal in Belize and a .223 caliber rifle is by no means a“high-powered assault rifle”.
An assault rifle by military definition is “a military firearm that is chambered for ammunition of reduced size and that has the capacity to switch between semiautomatic and fully automatic.” Any weapon with the capability to shoot fully automatic is illegal in Belize thus rendering assault rifles illegal. Furthermore, the .223 caliber is considered a varmint cartridge widely used for hunting smaller game and deer, the projectile is considerably thinner than that of a 9mm.
Another thing that I would like to address that was brought up in the media recently, more specifically on “Channel 7’s Uncut”, is my relationship with the police department.
This came into question due to my sponsorship of a police basketball tournament. I must clarify that my relationship is not with the police department but with the COMMUNITY, the police department just happens to be a vital part of the community and one that I will continue to support. The businessmen have the ability and power to better the country, we were blessed with the means to give back and bless others and should do so. In fact, every single person can and should, within their means, contribute to making their community and Belize a better place.
Anyone that knows me personally can attest to the fact that over the years I have PRIVATELY made many contributions to the community, assisting with things ranging from scholarships, medical bills, rent, equipment, and uniforms to donations for the construction of churches and houses. I have even employed individuals to clean up the streets and drains with no personal or business benefit involved.
My decision to help sponsor the police department’s basketball tournament comes from seeing the great community benefits that stem from it. It is a wonderful thing to see such positive interaction between the police department and the community and I am privileged to be able to form a part of it. I commend Douglas Hyde, the committee, and all those involved for their work in putting it together.
The nature of your reporting seems to be that criminals can access weapons by paying a fee to obtain a gun license, to this I can say with certainty, and other dealers attest to this as well, Is not so.
To my knowledge not a single weapon I have sold has been used in a crime nor have there been any reported incidents involving them. As a news station you all should know how many incidents a year involve licensed firearms, the answer is close to none! On the contrary, I can assert the fact that the weapons I have sold have brought food to the tables of many (hunting), they protect the lives of law-abiding citizens on a daily basis, have been used to deter crime, and have saved the lives of many individuals who had they not had their licensed firearm might have been another murder statistic or robbery victim. I applaud your investigative journalism but do request that more accurate reporting be done.
Lock N’ Loaded- Guns & Ammo Belmopan
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