Sunday, June 23, 2024

Firearms and Ammunition Control Board appointed

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The inaugural meeting of the Firearms and Ammunition Control Board was held on Thursday, January 4th. The Board comprises the Minister of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries Chief Executive Officer, Sharole Carr-Saldivar, Magistrate Mannon Dennison, and Senrio Superintendent of Police Clement Cacho. The appointment of this Board came after the amendment to the Firearms Act, Chapter 143 of the Substantive Laws of Belize, Revised Edition 2000, which seeks to revolutionize, reform, and regulate the sale, purchase, importation, exportation, trans-shipment, disposal, possession, and use of firearms and ammunition in Belize.

Sharole Carr-Saldivar, Magistrate Mannon Dennison, and Senrio Superintendent of Police Clement Cacho

In a press release issued on January 5th, the Minister of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries, Honorable Kareem Musa, explained the duties of the Board. “The powers and functions of the Board included receiving, screening, and processing firearms applications, and designating approved Firearm Safety Instructors; receiving and investigating complaints in respect to a breach of any term or condition of a firearm authorization; ensuring general compliance with the provisions of the Firearms Act; causing to be conducted audits of firearms and ammunitions, reviews of issuance and denials of licenses, and inquisitions and investigations; and developing and implementing a digital management of firearms and ammunition systems.” The Board will also have the sole power to issue and revoke firearms licenses, certificates, or permits and reform the regulatory structure concerning firearms and ammunition. “This allows for transparency, consistency, oversight, accountability and control,” said Musa.

Honorable Kareem Musa,

The cabinet approved the establishment of the Board on July 6, 2023, and it was passed into law in November of 2023. A moratorium on issuing new gun licenses was also set until the Board could be appointed. The amendment came after allegations of corruption in the approval process of gun licenses. It was alleged that known gang affiliates with criminal records were granted licenses and that approvals were given without due process. Previously, the Commissioner of Police in the Belize Police Department had authority regarding firearms and ammunition, who denied allegations of misdoing regarding firearms and ammunition regulations.
Belize is considered to be a country with strict gun laws where prospective firearms owners need to go through a lengthy application process to carry legally. To obtain a license, applicants must attend a gun safety lecture, receive three separate letters of recommendation, and make a formal application as to why they need to obtain a firearm license. Once submitted, the application is processed and vetted; approval is not guaranteed even if you meet all the requirements. A valid firearm license is for one year; holders must renew before expiration. Permits are under three categories: farming, hunting, and special protection. The type of weapon that a person can carry is also regulated, with only Rifles – under 7.61 caliber, Revolver – .43 caliber and under, Magnum Revolver – .356 caliber and under, and Handgun – 9MM and under being legal. Homemade weapons, fully automatic weapons, sawed-off shotguns of any caliber, and machine guns of any caliber are illegal in Belize.

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