Warrant-less firearms searches proposed

    Big changes ahead for Cayman gun law

    gun
    Changes proposed for the Cayman Islands Firearms Law would allow for warrant-less searches of homes and individuals where police officers have “reasonable cause” to suspect someone possesses an illegal firearm.

    Such a provision currently exists in instances where police suspect illegal drugs are being kept in a home, car or are being held by the individual. However, lawmakers have resisted in past years attempts to provide police with the same powers in regard to firearms investigations.

    According to the Firearms (Amendment) Bill, 2011: “If a constable or customs officer has reasonable cause to suspect that any person is in possession of a firearm or bullet-proof vest in contravention of this law he may, without warrant, detain and search such person and whether or not any person is detained or searched may, without warrant, break open and search any premises, vehicle, vessel, or thing whatsoever in which he has reasonable cause to suspect that any such firearm or bullet proof vest may be concealed.”

    It’s not known when lawmakers would be able to take up the proposal, but it would require approval of the full Legislative Assembly. 

    In addition to the warrant-less search provision, the amendment bill would allow individuals to be detained by police on suspicion of violating the Firearms Law, or any other criminal offence involving the use of a firearm, for up to 14 days without criminal charges being filed. Currently, police can only hold criminal suspects up to eight days – with the permission of a court – without charging them.

    The application to detain a firearms suspect must be made by an officer the rank of at least chief inspector and must satisfy the Summary Court that “there are reasonable grounds for believing that the continued detention of the person….is justified,” according to the law.

    “Justified” means that the detention of the person is necessary to secure or preserve evidence in the criminal case or to allow police officers enough time to secure the results of forensic tests.

    If the 14-day warrant of detention expires, the person must either be charged or released, according to the amendment bill. If the person is released, they cannot be arrested for the same offence unless new evidence is brought to light in the case.

    A Summary Court can extend the original 14-day warrant “for such period as the summary court thinks fit”, but not for more than an additional 14 days for the same offence – 28 days in all without a criminal charge is the maximum time under the proposed revision to the Firearms Law.

    In addition to the changes proposed for police searches and length of detention, the bill also sets out the circumstances in which the legal ‘burden of proof’ would rest on the suspect in firearms cases, rather than on the Crown. The issue was discussed by Police Commissioner David Baines earlier this year.

    Mr. Baines said what was being reviewed with the attorney general’s office was essentially a “reversal” in the burden of proof for people found in possession of unlicensed guns in their homes or vehicles. 

    “The burden of proof is now for us to demonstrate possession of that individual of that gun,” Mr. Baines said. “That will be changed. If you are found to have a gun in your car or a gun under your bed without any reasonable excuse … it is deemed to be in your possession and under your control.”

    According to the Firearms [Amendment] Bill, 2011, “where it is proved beyond a reasonable doubt” that the person had possession of a firearm or bullet-proof vest, imported anything containing a firearm or bullet-proof vest, or supplied anyone with such an item then “it shall be presumed, until the contrary is proved” that the individual knew of the firearm or vest being present in the location it was found.  

    The changes proposed in the amendment bill would obviously apply only to unlicensed firearms. It is legal in Cayman for private citizens to possess a firearm if the proper licence and safety procedures are maintained. 

     

    12 COMMENTS

    1. We can not allow The Cayman Islands to become a police state.

      Warrantless Police Searches for firearms is an invitation for political exploitation where certain individuals will be targeted and the risks of crooked police.

      This madness must be challenged discouraged and stopped here in its tracks.Cayman is not the Wild Wild West, There’s something called Law and Order.

      We can not allow the police to act lawless in carrying out warrantless searches, as there will be many people falling victim at the hands of those political party Police operatives who will take direct advantage of people preceded by racial, national, and political ‘PROFILING

      Someone has taken leave of their senses to even suggest such an outrageous move. The Comm. of police should be authorized to issue a warrant in a real emergency when necessary and he must show reasonable cause for such searches.

    2. Think of the power that the Police now has… They can enter into your home without your permission and without a warrant… all because they can say that they heard someone say you had a gun. And the officers, can always pretty up the suspicion and say its reasonable suspicion. They don’t have to prove anything to a judge like you would do to get a warrant. The officers can dig into your personal items, drawers, filing cabinets, children’s bedroom, because they suspect an illigal firearm. Think about that for a moment… what if these officers are bad apples?

      I am just saying… How much privacy and liberties are we going to take away from the people, because of the issue of crime?

      Editor’s note: Please note commenters, the legislation is just a bill at this stage. It has not yet been passed by a vote of the Legislative Assembly.

    3. Regardless if this fire Arms Law it just a bill not yet passed. We are making sure that it does not reach the table and that is is not passed. This proposed law is going just too far with our civil liberties.

      We need to watch this one out and if Alden and Ezzard don’t have enough sense to beat this down in the L.A, then the people definitely need to march. This is more important than blow holes in East End and N. Side. We need to get our priorities straight.

    4. Can of worms being opened here

      The legal community must already be working out how much money they will make when the human rights implications of these proposals go to court and RCIPS gets sued. You can almost hear the ‘ka-ching’ sounds as this is being read.

      It’s papering over the cracks again. RCIPS, even with support from Merseyside, can’t do their job properly so the boss tries to force through very dubious legal moves to try and help out.

      Bottom line – this is no substitute for proper policing.

    5. Sounds good to me. And, if passed, I hope the Judges will impose swingeing sentences on those convicted. Why on earth should anyone possessing an illegal firearm not be severely punished?
      Moreover, if the suppliers of illegal firearms can be identified, they also should be severely punished.
      Maybe we could start from the beginning again: a Law which simply says who may possess a firearm, how it shall be kept, registered, inspected etc; and in the evemt of failure to observe the conditions, immediate confiscation and appropriate criminal charges under the Law.
      But perhaps we already have such a Law? if so, why is it not enforced?

    6. ATTENTION LAND LORDS…:

      In The Firearms (Amendment) Bill, 2011, regarding Presumption of possession or handling of firearm or bullet-proof vest, it reads:

      Clause 18B. (1) Without prejudice to any other provision of this Law –

      (e). where it is proved beyond reasonable doubt that a person had in his possession or custody or under his control a dock warrant, warehouse warrant or order, baggage receipt or claim, airway-bill, bill of lading or other similar document relating to anything containing a firearm or bullet-proof vest, it shall be presumed, until the contrary is proved, that such person was in possession of such firearm or bullet-proof vest

      (g). where it is proved beyond reasonable doubt that a person is the owner, tenant, lessee or occupier of any dwelling house or other private premises in or on which is found any firearm or bullet-proof vest, until the contrary is proved, he shall be deemed to have had in his possession such firearm or bullet-proof vest.

    7. Tiger Cayman is not the Wild West.
      Well, it is, going by reports of crime, going in that direction.
      And the Wild West was renowned for its lack of control of guns and those who used them.
      I invite you and other commentators to spell out unemotionally and logically why anyone who has or may seem to have, in his possession, or anyone who supplies, an illegal -I repeat illegal – gun, should not be investigated forthwith.

    8. Many thanks Denny, (g) just shows how far into the realms of madness this proposal goes.

      Take this scenario –

      RCIPS raid a derelict property, something like the old Hyatt, and find a stash of firearms and ammo so they bust the owners. Under this law they don’t need to bother with any forensics, ballistics tests or anything else that might actually identify who put the stuff there – it’s done and dusted, case solved.

      And you can extend this argument almost without limit. The last place I lived in on Cayman (initials TI) had some really good places to stash weapons. I found hideaways you could put just about anything man-portable in and no one would come across it.

      Most of the hotels I’ve used also have places you could hide firearms. I did this in Yugoslavia 20 years ago – book a room, find a good hiding place in the building, stash the weapon then come back in country two weeks later and retrieve it.

      What next? Someone drops a spliff on the floor or the sand outside a bar, or in the bushes round a hotel and they bust the owner for possession?

      The most dangerous thing about this is that makes planting evidence so much easier. All the RCIPS or someone’s business rival needs to do is drop a few rounds of ammo on the property and the owner ends up with three squares and a rack in Northward for a few years.

    9. I am sure we have all heard the phase, the power of the press.. Now imagine this; The editor has the power to edit your comments and post them without telling you what changes will be made. Also the editor has the power to not post your comments at all, or just post the comments which they view to be their view.. Now if government knew this and tried to do something about it what do you believe the press would do.. We would all be screaming freedom of the press and freedom of speech right.. This may be a little off subject but I have already submitted my comment on the point..

    10. Dear me, John Evans, you are a lad, aren’t you.
      -hid a weapon in a hotel in Yugoslavia, and came back for it two weeks later.
      And you know how to hide weapons in Cayman.
      I won’t guess what you were doing or intended to do with it in Yugoslavia, but it is a reasonable inference that it was an illegal weapon.
      Which leads me to conclude that you are not someone whose opinions are neutral in this matter.
      Or, you are a vapid boaster? which leaves us to wonder about your postings on this and other matters.

    11. I can just picture the lawyers in the Cayman Islands having a party and licking their lips at the thought of the millions of dollars to be made with the onslaught of slew of law suits against the RCIP. The UK needs to hear about this one ’cause the country’s going to go broke violating people’s human rights locally and internationally. The EU can’t approve of this one.

      who’s the Comm,Of Police advisor? he should be fired.

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