Senior Minister Douglas Supports Tougher Firearms Legislation To Tackle Rising Gun Violence

Senior Minister and Parliamentary Representative for St. Christopher Six (6), the Right Honourable Dr. Denzil Douglas.
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Basseterre, St. Kitts – In a strong show of commitment to public safety, Senior Minister and Parliamentary Representative for St. Christopher Six (6), the Right Honourable Dr. Denzil Douglas has voiced his staunch support for the Firearms (Amendment) Bill, 2024, during the May 09, 2024,  parliamentary session. This critical amendment, which was passed in the National Assembly, aims to significantly toughen penalties for gun-related crimes in response to the escalating violence affecting the nation.

Senior Minister and Parliamentary Representative for St. Christopher Six (6), the Right Honourable Dr. Denzil Douglas.

The amendment enhances the Firearms Act, Cap. 19.05, originally enacted in 1967 and last revised in 2017. Under the new legislation, offences involving the importation and possession of automatic weapons and the use of firearms in criminal activity would carry a maximum penalty of 40 years imprisonment and an EC$500,000 fine. Additionally, the penalty for the importation and possession of non-automatic weapons could see an increase from 15 years to 30 years, along with a maximum EC$250,000 fine.

“This is yet another step to ensuring that we as a government do all that we are expected to do and show leadership in tackling this gun problem – this increasing homicide situation – especially as a result of the use of firearms. The Bill, therefore, is very simple, simple in the sense that it is simply structured,” stated Dr. Douglas.

Dr. Douglas emphasised the legislation’s intent as a deterrent to potential offenders.

“ It is not the only thing that we must do, but at least it must deter those who are engaged in the use of firearms and who are killing people, that they will spend a whole heap of years in prison, and if not careful, depending on the age, they will die in prison,” he explained. “A deterrent is going to be important as part and parcel of the various different actions that have to be taken in attempting to resolve this particular issue.”

Dr. Douglas also highlighted the thorough preparatory work done before introducing the legislation.

“Madam Speaker, there has been widespread consultation before coming into this parliament today to pursue this piece of legislation,” he said. “And also of course, to pursue other pieces of legislation which will form part of the collective attempt to tackle this problem as it is continuing to emerge,” he said.

Senior Minister Douglas extended his condolences to the families recently bereaved by gun violence. He also expressed gratitude towards the Prime Minister and Mover of the Bill, the Honourable Dr. Terrance Drew, Attorney-General, the Honourable Garth Wilkin, and the dedicated team responsible for bringing this vital legislation to Parliament.

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