Griffith fine with giving citizens guns

Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Gary Grif­fith has as­sured mem­bers of the Ch­agua­nas East elec­toral dis­trict that he is work­ing as­sid­u­ous­ly to clear the back­log of Firearm User Li­cens­es (FULs). And he is al­so mak­ing it clear that he is not averse to grant­i­ng cit­i­zens gun li­cens­es once they qual­i­fy for them.

Grif­fith made the promise dur­ing a meet­ing at the of­fice of Ch­agua­nas East MP Fazal Karim, where sev­er­al mem­bers of the pub­lic and busi­ness com­mu­ni­ty raised con­cerns over the po­lice’s tar­di­ness in grant­i­ng them gun li­cens­es.

“I do apol­o­gise for what has hap­pened over the past few years,” Grif­fith said.

“Re­quests would have been made and not even the com­mon cour­tesy was giv­en to you all of a re­sponse. I am try­ing to clean up a back­log of over 15,000 ap­pli­ca­tions. I am deal­ing with it and again, each one I have to put my sig­na­ture about 12 dif­fer­ent places. It takes a while but I’m clean­ing it up.”

In the past, he said his pre­de­ces­sors were hes­i­tant in grant­i­ng li­cens­es be­cause they felt there were too many guns in the coun­try. How­ev­er, he said this is not his po­si­tion.

“For far too long, com­mis­sion­ers of po­lice will say I don’t think too many peo­ple should get firearms. That is not your (the CoP’s) busi­ness; you (the CoP) have to ad­here to the law,” Grif­fith said.

“I want to as­sure we are not putting it on hold be­cause the per­cep­tion of a com­mis­sion­er of po­lice as to whether per­sons should or should not have is ir­rel­e­vant. If you have the cri­te­ria, you have what is re­quired…I would pro­vide you with that.”

In fact, he said it was proven that law-abid­ing cit­i­zens hav­ing firearms did not re­sult in an in­crease in crime.

“In the sta­tis­tics shown, the num­ber of per­sons with li­censed firearms - it is vir­tu­al­ly non-ex­is­tent, it is less than one per cent of per­sons who have FULs have been in­volved in us­ing their weapon to com­mit a crime. So it shows that it has proven to be ef­fec­tive by law-abid­ing cit­i­zens hav­ing firearms.”

In fact, he said many of these very peo­ple had their lives saved be­cause they had a firearm.

Grif­fith al­so warned that own­ing a firearm al­so comes with a re­spon­si­bil­i­ty and own­ers should en­sure they get prop­er train­ing in safe us­age and weapon main­te­nance.

Grif­fith al­so claimed that in the past six months he had grant­ed more FULs than in the past six years by his pre­de­ces­sors.

On Feb­ru­ary 21, the Firearms Sec­tion of the Trinidad and To­ba­go Po­lice Ser­vice was closed for an in­ter­nal au­dit which added to the back­log. It has since been re­opened.

 - by Rishard Khan. Photo by Anisto Alves.

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