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VI Parliament passes tough Gun Bill

‘We have seen an increase in gun crime’ – Hon Archibald C. Christian
Hon Archibald C. Christian acknowledged that gun crimes were up. Hon Alvera Maduro-Caines (R6)wants to know how the guns are coming into the VI and Leader of the Opposition Hon Ralph T. O'Neal OBE voiced his support for the Bill. Photo: VINO/File
Hon Ronnie W. Skelton and Hon Myron V. Walwyn spoke on the Bill. Photo: VINO
Hon Ronnie W. Skelton and Hon Myron V. Walwyn spoke on the Bill. Photo: VINO
Representative for the Eighth District Honourable Marlon A. Penn said that conflict resolution needs to be worked on among the young people. Deputy Speaker and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour Dr the Honourable Kedrick D. Pickering (R7) asked the question what are persons protecting themselves from that they would need an assault rifle or machine gun. Photo: VINO/File
Representative for the Eighth District Honourable Marlon A. Penn said that conflict resolution needs to be worked on among the young people. Deputy Speaker and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour Dr the Honourable Kedrick D. Pickering (R7) asked the question what are persons protecting themselves from that they would need an assault rifle or machine gun. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI – As the House of Assembly passed tough legislation aimed at combating gun crimes, Territorial Member of the House of Assembly Honourable Archibald C. Christian said that such crimes have risen and therefore tougher sentences are necessary to address them.

He was speaking in the debate on the Firearm and Air Guns Amendment Act which was deliberated on in the House of Assembly today March 23, 2015 prior to its second and third readings. The bill was eventually passed in the House of Assembly following speeches from the Government benches.

Except for Leader of the Opposition Honourable Ralph T. O’Neal, no one from the Opposition spoke on the Bill.

The Firearm and Air Guns Amendment Act 2015 was tabled by Premier and Minister of Finance Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith, following up on a promise the National Democratic Party (NDP) made during its campaign prior to the 2011 elections.

More jail time for gun crimes

The Act will give judges and magistrates the authority to use their discretion in imposing penalties where they feel that the penalties would be arbitrary or disproportionate.

According to the Act, persons other than juveniles who use a firearm in the commission of a crime, including kidnapping, robbery, rape or other sexual offences or domestic violence acts, face 15 years behind bars.

The Act states that for having prohibited weapons a person faces a minimum fine of $80,000 or no less than five years imprisonment.

For the Act of attempting to use a weapon to intimidate, threaten or cause injury to the governor or a judge, master or magistrate, public officer or member of the House of Assembly a person faces a sentence of 10 years.

For trading in firearms or air guns when one is unauthorised to do so, one faces a fine of no less than $50,000 or imprisonment of not less than eight years.

Honourable Christian said handguns have been replaced with assault rifles. "Madam Speaker these are deadly weapons by their design," he said.

"For such weapons to end up in the hands of civilians is worrying. A number of persons have suggested that it is time for our borders [to be patrolled] on a more regular basis," he said.

He said the firearms are coming in by illegal means. "I'm hoping that by today persons can breathe a sigh of relief," Hon Christian said.

Meanwhile, Representative for the Sixth District Honourable Alvera Maduro-Caines called for an investigation into how the guns are coming into the territory.

Fines should be tough – Hon Ralph T. O’Neal OBE

Speaking on the Bill, Leader of the Opposition Honourable Ralph T. O'Neal OBE (R9) said at one time he went to the chief of police complaining about the gun situation.

Hon O’Neal said he was able to acquire a gun but after some time he couldn't live with it so he turned it over to the Police.

"Madam Speaker, it is heartening when people told you that in the days gone by people with disagreements had fistfights but today people are getting shot. I am in support of the Bill before the House. The fines should be tough. People who take these guns and kill persons, they go to prison but some of them come out and still are a danger to society," he said.

"We seem to be following other nations...watching television and seeing this and that and getting away with it. I hope when this Bill is passed into law we will see a reduction in criminal acts," he said.

Law alone not enough

Minister for Health and Social Development Honourable Ronnie W. Skelton said that the law alone will not solve the problem but there is need for a multi-pronged approach. "We need to get young people to understand there is a life outside of crime," he said.

He suggested that a programme is designed to allow persons in prison to be able to give talks to young persons to deter them from a life of crime.

Minister for Education and Culture Honourable Myron V. Walwyn said that society must have contempt for criminal behaviours. He said it is not true that crime is a reflection of the economy.

He added that it might be a good time to have another gun amnesty before the Act comes fully into force.

Representative for the Eighth District Honourable Marlon A. Penn said conflict resolution needs to be worked on among the young people. "We as a community need to play our role. It's not just about legislation," he said.

Deputy Speaker and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour Dr The Honourable Kedrick D. Pickering (R7) wanted to know what persons were protecting themselves from that they need an assault rifle or machine gun.

18 Responses to “VI Parliament passes tough Gun Bill”

  • Observer (23/03/2015, 19:17) Like (12) Dislike (4) Reply
    It's good that the Government has finally realized the introduction of this Gun Bill. The same persons who were on here regularly mocking the Government for not introducing stiffer gun laws, should now be on here saying something positive about this milestone achievement. I very well remember reading many blogs (especially after a robbery using a gun for e.g.) that would say "NDP say crime is down", or "where is the gun law for stiffer penalties?" Of course, as brought out by the comments of the legislators above, there are other steps that the community can take to help reduce the incidence of gun crime in our territory. I commend the suggestions made by Hon. Marlon Penn, Hon. Archibald Christian, Hon. Alvera Maduro-Caines, Hon. Ronnie Skelton and Hon. Myron Walwyn. I also commend the Hon. R.T. O'Neal for commending the introduction of the Gun Bill. However, I find it shameful that the other members of the V.I.P./Opposition did not speak on the Bill - which is a good thing. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the majority of the V.I.P. members are mostly there for fault-finding as opposed to supporting good initiatives. I, as well as many people of this territory, would prefer to hear what plans the V.I.P. has to improve life here in the Virgin Islands, as opposed to opposing for opposing sake. Please spend more time proposing concrete plans on how you plan to make life better for us especially since election is not far away. Since a lot of you like to say "NDP must go", then ensure that your party is a viable option to vote for come Elections - which is not far off. I personally am looking on and listening very carefully, so don't just rely on smear tactics and criticizing your opponent. We the people are looking at all credible candidates and most of all their REALISTIC AND GOOD PLANS to make life better for us...the people you are elected to serve.
    • @ Observer (23/03/2015, 20:07) Like (2) Dislike (17) Reply
      Whilethe VIP was busy building a successful nation, the NDP and this new gang were building up dons and garrisons and turning a blind eye to the influx and misuse of guns and criminality.
      • Observer (24/03/2015, 07:54) Like (3) Dislike (1) Reply
        @ Observer: It's interesting that you say "while the VIP was building a 'successful nation'.....NDP and....were turning a blind eye to the influx and misuse of guns and criminality"; so wasn't there guns snd criminality when the VIP was in how much years? Why didn't they pass such a bill in their time (since you seem only to be in favor when good deeds are done by VIP)? What were their priorities during their reign? I'm not going to judge, but you ponder on that for a moment. It goes back to my original comment: now that the Gun Bill has been introduced (and no doubt these things don't happen overnight, and naturally had to go through a process to be where it is now), you and others (if VIP or undecided) should (if it's in your capacity to be positive even for one minute), give credit where its due - to the "Government" for finally achieving this much needed law, which would go a long way to improve the society you, me, visitors and all of us reside in. The other option you have (whether you realize it or not) is to say nothing if you have nothing good to say.
    • egg face (23/03/2015, 20:18) Like (11) Dislike (18) Reply
      if the peole go back to the polls to vote for the NDP again there would be NO hope for the BVI
  • Sherry (23/03/2015, 19:31) Like (12) Dislike (38) Reply
    After so many of we children dead NDP come with this election gimmick bill…I am more determined that NDP must GO!
  • mother hen (23/03/2015, 19:35) Like (9) Dislike (14) Reply
    under pressure they acted finally
    • Forbidden Truth (23/03/2015, 21:42) Like (6) Dislike (7) Reply
      Das the only time they act in the interest of this country.
  • me (23/03/2015, 19:56) Like (19) Dislike (2) Reply
    Its hard to believe 1st and 3rd District Reps cant support a bill of
    this magnitude. Are they serious? What a national disgrace to this
    country. And they wanted to be Leader and deputy Leader?

    VIP DOA dead on arrival
  • ------------------- (23/03/2015, 20:14) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
    If some of our citizens are criminals, inevitably some politicians will be criminals as well. It cuts both ways.
  • Hmm... (23/03/2015, 22:11) Like (3) Dislike (4) Reply
    "The Act will give judges and magistrates the authority to use their discretion in imposing penalties where they feel that the penalties would be arbitrary or disproportionate." Does this mean with the right amount of money under the table i can manipulate a judge's discretion and feelings? I mean thats all it boils down to.....
    • pat (23/03/2015, 22:37) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      or a harsher penalty will be given out because of who you are or who you know. But I do think there has to be some safety mechanism to make sure justice is done right and not just by formula. Each case is different.
  • The Real Judge (23/03/2015, 23:22) Like (24) Dislike (0) Reply
    I congratulate the NDP Government for having the guts to bring this bill. The VIP Government had the opportunity for eight years and didn't bring any bill. The opposition really make me feel shame of them. They are not for this country, they are for political mileage. They are the ones that wants to lead and can't support a good thing when they see it. I know this administration have made mistakes, and they appear like they are for the outsiders, but they are the best hope for this country. These people have vision. The VIP have talks and no action. They just sit to appose and don't have solutions. Sorry VIP, YOU LOST TODAY AGAIN WHEN YOU DIDN'T SPEAK ON THIS BILL. Go to hell.
  • I say so (24/03/2015, 05:24) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
    I support a gun amnesty now. When the amnesty period closes, you pay the consequences.
  • Diego (24/03/2015, 06:45) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
    What about the rights for one to bear a firearm was this considered in the bill this law only apply to law abiding citizens the criminals will still have their guns that's why we should have a legal way to own one to.
  • Smiley (24/03/2015, 09:45) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
    I would support a gun amnesty and then afterwards no mercy. I don't see a reason for someone to have am illegal gun unless that individual is doing or was doing something illegal. The should not be an option to pay any fines whatsoever because a lot of these criminals can afford to pay the fines . You are found with a gun should be automatically 15 years and then that would a deterrent to these criminals. The gun is what mashing up this country so why giving a criminal a pat on the shoulder when they are destroying the nation. If u want tourist visitations too be increased and getting more investors then u have to stop be more serious in dealing with them. Politics must stop being sympathetic because of someones SURNAME and let the criminals feel pressure of the game.
  • he he (24/03/2015, 10:53) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    hon alvera if u need to know how guns coming in I can tell u to asked the same guy under the mango u were speaking with on Friday afternoon
  • SB (24/03/2015, 12:01) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Yea yea this sounds good ....when it can happen to the OPPOSITION FAMILY but we know when party member families and power 6 family these rules will be replaced with a 2k fine. Who want to bet? But i hear you guys loud and clear.
  • Historian (24/03/2015, 17:33) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    well if it is illegal and certainly frowned upon for one to defend ones self, are we really really sure about the BVI?
    A gun is not the only self-defense for sure, but this is sounding a bit like Hitler. And rather threatening towards
    those who would only use force in proper circumstances, and NOT to commit a crime. Obviously alot of people
    do not understand reality too well. Make sure all the people who support the BVI with their money, are clear about
    this. Of course a few trillion could be withdrawn as people are concerned about their own safety since after all it
    is the local governments' wish that you be criminalized if you defend yourself. Oh well, people don't learn...


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