Amendment To Firearm Bill Enhances Administration Of Justice, Says Minister Henderson

MP for St. Christopher Two, the Honourable Marsha Henderson at Parliament.
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Basseterre, St. Kitts – The new changes to the Firearms (Amendment) Bill, 2024, passed in the National Assembly of St. Kitts and Nevis on Thursday, May 09, 2024, were fully endorsed by the Honourable Marsha Henderson, who noted that the amendments will greatly assist with the fair and efficient administration of justice.

MP for St. Christopher Two, the Honourable Marsha Henderson at Parliament.

The Bill essentially proposes increases to maximum sentencing and fines for the importation, transhipment and possession of automatic weapons, non-automatic weapons and ammunition, as well as offences involving the use of firearms. It also allows for a 15-day gun amnesty programme (May 10-25, 2024), which allows persons to voluntarily surrender illegal firearms and ammunition to a police station or an attorney.

Honourable Henderson explained that the stiffer penalties are part of a comprehensive response to a spike in firearm-related incidences.

It is clear that we need to be introducing harsher penalties to act as a deterrent for persons who consider committing firearm offences,” Minister Henderson stated. “We also think that harsher penalties provide a sense of justice for victims and families of victims.

Honourable Henderson, who represents St. Christopher Two in the parliament and serves as the Minister of Tourism and Labour et al in the Cabinet, referenced her experience as a criminal lawyer before being elected to parliament in 2022. She noted that while the summary conviction penalties are proposed to increase, the decision of the court will still be taken into account.

The increase in the penalty does not take away from the discretion of the sentencer,” she stated. “Ultimately, the sentencer still has the discretion to determine the range of the sentence, so if there is a conviction starting from the lowest up to what we are proposing … to the maximum of 40 years, the sentencer still has to consider all of the other objectives of the sentencing exercise.”

The member of parliament said that the passage of the amendments is in the best interest of fostering peace and enhancing citizen security in communities and the nation to reduce the prevalence of gun-related crimes and the possession of illegal firearms.

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