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Gun Control License Board lifts burden from Commissioner’s shoulders, but can it do its job?

Posted: Monday, July 31, 2023. 8:39 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Government of Belize continues to move toward the creation of a Gun License Control Board, removing the ultimate say in who owns a gun license in Belize from the Commissioner of Police.

It follows recent press investigations into the issuance of fraudulent gun licenses, including to those with criminal backgrounds.

Minister of Home Affairs Kareem Musa recently revealed that the composition of the Board will include a rotating Magistrate, the police officer in charge of the Dangerous Goods section and the CEO of the Ministry, currently Kevin Arthurs.

Musa argued that current Commissioner Chester Williams has weightier concerns than personally reviewing who gets a license. The new board will be powered to receive and review applications in conjunction with Special Branch, the Police’s intelligence specialists, who conduct vetting to ensure that their checks are in proper order.

The legislation for the Gun License Control Board is currently at the Attorney General’s ministry where amendments are being made to the firearms legislation. The paper will then make its way to the National Assembly in August for consideration.

But the Commissioner remains cautious: “…to say that the board is going to make it better, I’m not going to say that. I’m not going to say either that the board is going to make it worse. The proof of that is going to be when it happens, then we see how it goes from there.”

In related news, the Mayor of Benque Viejo del Carmen has been pointed at for having a license despite a past conviction – an extremely past conviction as pointed out by the Commissioner. So should that stop him from having a gun license? No, Williams insisted: “If a person has an old criminal record and has shown that since then they have become a better person, they have paid their dues to society, they are established business people, I don’t see why they should be denied. It’s not like there are persons out there who are running around still giving problems or committing crime with a firearm. If you were to look at the number of firearms that are licensed firearms that are used to commit crimes, it is less than one percent. So what is the issue?”

 

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