Top cop wants guns review

Acting Police Commissioner James Smith has asked his firearms licensing department to conduct a full review of every gun licence held in the Cayman Islands.

According to statements made by the commissioner at the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman’s 43rd annual charter meeting, there are now well more than 1,000 registered guns in Cayman.

“I cannot understand why there are 1,600 registered guns here,” Mr. Smith told the group of Rotarians. “There is one gun club here with 10 members.”

Members of the Cayman Islands Sports Shooting Association said they weren’t certain how many registered firearms existed in Cayman, but said the association’s fluctuating membership is generally more than 120 people.

‘Besides, you don’t have to be a member of the gun club to own a firearm,’ said Dennie Warren, Jr. speaking on behalf of the association.

When questioned further about the issue at a quarterly police press conference on 23 January, Acting Commissioner Smith said gun licences would be examined to determine whether they are legitimately held, properly stored and properly used.

“Often the disastrous outcomes from possession of firearms come from those that are legally held,” Mr. Smith said at the press briefing. “So I need to be convinced that there’s a strong reason for someone to legally hold a firearm.

“It is a matter of concern to me that number of licensed firearms holders on this island.’

‘As far as I know, most of the crime that takes place in Cayman involves illegal guns and other weapons, knives and such,’ Mr. Warren said. ‘The legal firearms owners I know are responsible people.’

Both Mr. Smith and Deputy Police Commissioner Anthony Ennis were asked whether they believe firearms ownership should remain legal for Cayman Islands residents.

Mr. Ennis said that was a decision for government policy-makers and declined to comment further.

Acting Commissioner Smith responded: “I don’t personally understand why people want guns.

“But it’s not for me to determine people’s personal choice,” he said, “provided (the weapons) are held within the law and safely; that’s my view.”

Firearms owners in the Cayman Islands must apply to posses those weapons and obtain a Firearms Users (Restricted) Licence before keeping a gun in their home or office. Generally, gun owners, including police officers, are not allowed to carry weapons on their person in public or in their vehicles unless they receive express written permission from the police commissioner.

According to the Firearms Law (2008 Revision), no licence or permit for a firearm will be granted to anyone who “is of intemperate habits, liable to fits of uncontrolled temper, notoriously careless in the use of firearms or of unsound mind.”

The law also provides a blanket exception for anyone to be denied a licence that is “unfitted to be entrusted with a firearm.”

The firearms application that new gun owners must fill out contains a detailed checklist with information about what safety precautions should be taken before bringing a firearm into one’s home or office. Police can inspect premises before a licence is granted or upon application for a renewal to determine whether the gun is held in a secure location and to determine how much ammunition the owner keeps.

Firearms permits must be renewed every three years under the law.