Firearms dealer threatens to sue Erla over renewal requirement for FUL holders

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Firearms dealer threatens to sue Erla over renewal requirement for FUL holders

A firearms dealer is calling on Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher to suspend or withdraw her decision to change the process for holders of Firearm User’s Licenses (FULs).

Attorney Nyree Alfonso, wife of Towfeek Ali, owner of the Firearms Training Institute, is threatening to sue Harewood-Christopher over her move to require the renewal of FULs for long-standing holders.

Alfonso, herself a long-time FUL holder, previously wrote to Harewood-Christopher questioning the legality of the changes to the renewal process, including a $500 fee. 

Alfonso, in a GML interview, said: “I am yet to receive a substantive response to my letters and, therefore, by this correspondence, we wish to formally address very fundamentally important legal issues which one would have hoped would have engaged your attention prior to issuance of the referenced notices.”

She pointed to Section 17(6) of the Firearms (Amendment) Act, which states that FULs granted prior to the passage of the legislation in 2004 will remain valid unless terminated or revoked. 

“If Parliament intended the legislation to have retroactive effect on the FULs issued prior to the year 2004, then it would have had to plainly said so and in any event would have needed to use specific and express language to achieve that effect,” she said. 

She also suggested that pre-2004 FUL holders were essentially given certain property rights based on how the legislation was phrased and those rights could only be removed by a fresh, clear and unambiguous amendment by Parliament. 

Alfonso also noted that the requirement for renewals of all FULs this year was absurd because the legislation only provides that renewals for FULs granted after 2004 take place every three years. 

“To be clear, FULs granted in the year 2023 or 2022 would not have expired in 2024 and any policy which mandates their renewal prematurely in 2021 is irrational and illegal,” she said. 

Alfonso suggested that the April deadline set by Harewood-Christopher would likely cause a further strain on TTPS resources. 

“In the face of such delay, your decision to introduce a fresh bureaucratic system is absurd, disproportionate, and prejudicial towards existing firearm holders,” she said. 

She also suggested that the country’s more than 20,000 FUL holders, including members of the protective services, would have difficulties in meeting the deadline, as there are a limited number of approved instructors who can provide certificates of competence. 

Alfonso gave Harewood-Christopher until February 1 to respond before a lawsuit over the issue is filed. She also called on Harewood-Christopher to avoid litigation by suspending or withdrawing her decision.