Tourist fined $1,000 for seven bullets

Magistrate says ‘it boggles the mind’ that people don’t know they are carrying ammunition

A visitor from Texas spent two days more than he planned on island after being arrested for possession of unlicensed firearms – seven rounds of 9mm ammunition. 

Michael Christopher Davis, 36, was stopped at Owen Roberts International Airport on Saturday as he was leaving for Houston. On Monday, he pleaded guilty before Magistrate Valdis Foldats, who imposed a fine of $1,000 and ordered the ammunition be destroyed. 

Crown counsel Greg Walcolm said Davis had come to Cayman on July 25 and stayed at a condo on West Bay Road. When he was at the airport for his return to Houston, his backpack was scanned and objects were seen that prompted staff to request a further search. Seven rounds of live 9mm ammunition were recovered. 

Mr. Walcolm said Davis told officers he had not used the backpack for at least a year and could not recall specifically when it had been used. He said he had not checked it thoroughly before his trip to Cayman and he accepted responsibility for the bullets.  

The defendant has a valid firearms license in Texas, but not in Cayman. 

Defense attorney John Furniss called this another one of the increasing number of cases in Cayman because there was “no detection whatsoever” of ammunition in luggage coming onto the island. He did not know if this was the result of the pressure of the numbers of people going through security in the U.S. or some other reason. [The Cayman Compass has reported three other cases of visitors in court for unlicensed ammunition since May 15.] 

The magistrate noted that Davis came from a different jurisdiction with a different view on the subject. He said Cayman has a harsh regime “because we’ve decided we don’t want guns here.” He said he found it bizarre that there was such a casual approach to lethal weapons: “It boggles the mind that people have ammunition in backpacks and don’t even know it.” He said it was a credit to officers in Cayman that they find the ammunition. “We don’t understand why other jurisdictions don’t have officers who find these things before they come here.”  

He pointed out that there is a seven-year mandatory sentence for an unlicensed handgun unless there are exceptional circumstances. While the mandatory sentence does not apply to ammunition, possession of it without a Cayman license is still an offense subject to stiff penalties. 

“I don’t know how we’ll get the message across,” the magistrate said, wondering whether the sentence for unlicensed ammunition might have to be increased. 

Recent fines have ranged from $750 to $3,000, depending on the quantity of ammunition and other factors.  


  1. I find it incredible that people are getting onto planes in the US with live ammunition. Have people such short memories of previous terrorist activities?

  2. Please understand that I’m NOT complaining about the local law. I simply want to explain the mindset of U.S. visitors who have unwittingly travelled to Cayman with ammunition. It’s actually legal for U.S. citizens to carry ammunition in checked luggage, as noted at:

    Having lived in Texas for more than a quarter century, having held a concealed handgun license there, and knowing that one can purchase ammunition in any Wal-Mart in Texas, it would be a very simple thing to unwittingly have bullets in a backpack or purse or any other pouch that one may have carried to any of the hundreds of gun ranges in that state.

    As I stated above, it is legal to carry ammunition in checked luggage in the US. However, even if US Customs officials should have found ammunition in someone’s carry-on luggage before the visitor left the US, the bullets would have been treated just like a full bottle of water or hand lotion and simply been confiscated.

    From that point of view, fining people for trying to LEAVE the Cayman islands with ammunition still seems rather odd to me. Bringing it into the country is certainly cause for alarm. But LEAVING the country with unused ammunition should be a welcome situation as it is clear at that point that the conveyor did not mean to do mischief with the ammunition in the Cayman Islands.

    Again, I’m definitely not complaining about the local laws. I’m just explaining why visitors from Texas may be caught unaware.

  3. In the USA you must be 18 years old to buy rifle or shotgun ammunition. You must be 21 to buy handgun ammunition.
    Ammuntion is sold in stores such as Walmart, Target, many sporting good stores. its stacked for the selection in the aises except handgun ammunition which is usually in a case, not due to law but due to shoplifting.
    A trip to Cabellas will have every kind of possible ammunition manufactured on display on shelves for examination and easy purchase.
    Sounds like the Cayman government should encourage law violators as those stiff fines could end up as healthy increases in magistrates retirement funds. Not bad, eh?

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