Commissioner of Police, Gary Griffith, says it is alarming the trend being observed where persons who are convicted of firearm offences appear to be sheltered from the full brunt of the law.
He said “It is absurd that persons who break the law and illegally acquire firearms and ammunition, almost certainly for the purpose of perpetrating other crimes, are consistently convicted by this country’s Magistrates and Judges and only made to pay infinitesimal fines for one of the most serious offences within the jurisdiction.”
Two days ago, a Sangre Grande man was fined only $20,000 for possession of a firearm and ammunition. This follows a spate of judgments whereby individuals on various occasions have been convicted and ordered to pay as little as $5,000.
The CoP asked, “Is it that we are allowing criminals back onto our nation’s streets for the cost of simply one or two month’s salary? This judicial reasoning seems illogical in light of the fact much harsher penalties are enforced for offences such as larceny and white-collar crime which are non-violent and do not deprive peaceable, law-abiding citizens of their right to life and compromise the safety of their person. Only last month, in February, eight persons were killed in 48 hours in circumstances involving the use of illegal firearms.
“Possession of a firearm under this jurisdiction’s laws is only permitted after stringent vetting of applicants to ensure that they are suitable to be granted the requisite Firearm User’s Licence. This approach is in accordance with my obligation to verify that persons who are permitted to have deadly weapons are responsible individuals who will not pose a danger to public safety. Consequently, individuals who obtain possession of illegal guns and ammunition present one of the most serious threats as they are empowered to commit some of the most grave and violent offences, often resulting in tragedy for many of our nation’s citizens. However, it appears that our nation’s judiciary does not appear to share the concern for the populace of our country as they consistently hand down judgments which do not seem to effectively penalize the offender or reflect the gravity of the offence.”
Griffith said “Parliament has legislated to permit for stringent penalties such as imprisonment and fines up to $250,000 for first-time offenders in accordance with the condemnation that this society accords these types of offences. However, it appears that our judicial system sympathizes more with the criminals before them than persons whose daily lives are affecting by egregiously high levels of crime including rape, robbery and murder.”