Royal Cayman Islands Police are searching for a handgun which has gone missing from its owner’s home in Grand Cayman.
Officers said the weapon turned up missing shortly after its owner applied for a handgun licence in May and was reminded that police would be inspecting his home to make sure the weapon was secured properly. Police said the owner later informed them he could not find the gun when he returned to check on the weapon.
A police press release issued earlier this week stated this incident ‘highlights the need for a professional inspection process’ to ensure that weapons are kept safely.
That inspection process has been the subject of some dispute in recent months.
In April, a complaint was filed over a firearms inspection done at the home of a George Town resident who said police performed what amounted to an illegal search of his home when they checked on his weapon.
Dennie Warren told the Caymanian Compass at the time the search was performed that officers could not cite any section of the law which allowed them to examine his weapon inside his home. Mr. Warren said the only time such a search had been done at his home was when he first received the weapon in the mid 1990’s.
According to a letter distributed by the RCIPS to all firearms licence applicants, police officers are allowed to examine the weapon’s storage to determine its suitability, count the gun owner’s ammunition and inspect the firearm itself.
The Cayman Islands Firearms Law (2006 revision) does not set out those police powers specifically. However, section 32(2) of the law states: ‘Whoever, on being required to do so, fails to produce either of the documents referred to in subsection (1) or to permit the constable to inspect such documents and to examine the firearm to which such documents relate for the purpose of verifying the particulars in such documents is guilty of an offence.’
However, section 32 subsection 1 refers to a person carrying a firearm in a public place. Mr. Warren argued the April search at his home does not fall under that heading.
Police said Mr. Warren’s complaint is still being reviewed, and he said Monday that he has received no response from either the RCIPS or the Attorney General’s office to his concerns regarding the search.
RCIPS Superintendent Marlon Bodden said in April that gun owners might not be used to such firearms checks being enforced so rigidly. However, Mr. Bodden said these types of firearms inspections are commonly done for both new firearms permit applications and permit renewals.
‘Annually, your vehicle must undergo an inspection in order to obtain a licence,’ Mr. Bodden said. ‘How can the same not apply to a lethal weapon?’
Mr. Warren said at the time that Mr. Bodden’s comments were likely prejudicial to his complaint with the police. He also questioned why RCIPS was still looking into his complaint about the search if it had already reached a conclusion.
‘It’s taking way too long for me to get an answer to a question they claim they already have the answer to,’ Mr. Warren said.