Persons applying for firearm licences are now required to show they have a clear need to be armed before being approved.
The move is part of the tightening up of processes at the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) following last year's scandal which revealed unfit persons may have been approved for gun licences.
Chief Executive Officer of the FLA, Shane Dalling, yesterday told RJR's Beyond the Headlines that the country's high crime rate is no longer enough reason for seeking to get a gun. Mr. Dalling was questioned about why a person who has cleared all security checks and is otherwise fit to be a licensed firearm holder would be denied the opportunity to carry a gun.
Mr. Dalling explained that there is no right to bear arms in Jamaica. He says the new policy will not affect current licence holders when they renew their permits. New, strict measures at the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) have reportedly led to a massive decline in the number of people applying for gun licences. The FLA says applications have dropped from about 600 monthly to 250.
Chief Executive Officer at the FLA, Shane Dalling, says a steady decline in applications started last year following a shake-up at the FLA, which saw the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency being called in to investigate irregularities in the granting of licences.
He theorises that many people have decided against applying because they no longer have anyone at the FLA who will corruptly ensure their applications are approved. In the meantime, the Firearm Licensing Authority says approvals for gun licences are taking place much quicker.
Mr Dalling says a number of changes have been made at the Authority which have seen the time for approvals moving from two years to nine months in some cases. He says the aim is to have the process take six months. Mr. Dalling explains this should ensure people will not try to find shortcuts for getting their licences.