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.