The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service is on the verge of getting new
and wide-ranging powers with regard to searching for illegal firearms and in
the detention of those suspected of breaking the Firearms Law.
It is incumbent upon those who are making decisions on the approval of
this law – which could occur as early as next month when the Legislative
Assembly meets again – to review this bill and understand what it means.
A knee-jerk reaction vote based on general statements about “we have a
problem with crime” is not, in our view, what is required here; because this
bill means a significant surrendering of the civil liberties most Caymanians
may, heretofore, have taken for granted.
This bill means a police officer can enter your home to search for a
firearm based on “reasonable suspicion” without seeking permission from a court
or even a justice of the peace.
The proposal allows individuals suspected of crime – not charged, not
convicted – merely those who have been arrested “on suspicion of” to be held in
prison for a total of 28 days, with the permission of a court, without criminal
The firearms amendment bill also reverses the ‘burden of proof’ in gun
ownership cases. If an illegal gun is found in your house or your car, it is
presumed to be yours unless you can prove otherwise. The basic presumption of
innocence in criminal firearms cases will evaporate if this bill is passed into
The governor and police commissioner have given their full support to
these measures as an effective way to fight crime and to help prevent illegal
gun ownership in Cayman. However, it is fair to point out neither man is likely
to be living in these Islands for the rest of their lives.
Our local lawmakers must carefully review and decide if this bill is
one the citizens of this country can live with forever, because it is
historically very difficult to get certain civil rights back for a populace
once they are taken away.
The MLAs have a tough choice to make; we hope they will give it all the
due consideration this important piece of legislation deserves.