National Transformation Alliance leader Gary Griffith is refuting claims made by the Minister of National Security, Fitzgerald Hinds, that the T&T Defence Force (TTDF) and the T&T Police Service (TTPS) do not use 7.62 and 5.56 ammunition.
Griffith who is stating otherwise, said Hinds should be brought before Parliament’s Privileges Committee for allegedly “misleading” Parliament.
The former top cop issued a statement on this on Monday, following Hinds’ statements on the ammunition issue (and on Griffith) in Parliament that day.
Griffith, a former commissioner of police, said, “As is typical for Minister Hinds, he demonstrated ignorance, incompetence, and the inability to tell the actual truth, in the 2024 Budget debate in Parliament on Monday.
“Having failed in his initial two attempts, which targeted legal firearms owners and legal firearms themselves, allegedly being utilised in crimes, he has now shifted his focus to ammunition, ironically using the word ‘diversion’ to suggest legal issue ammunition is involved in crimes.”
He added, “His statement that neither the TTDF or the TTPS use 7.62 and 5.56 ammunition is simply not true, and the truth is 99% of these types of ammunition were imported specifically for use by the protective services.”
“We have all the documentation to verify this, and can easily prove that the TTPS has millions of rounds of 7.62 and 5.56 in their possession at this moment. Hinds should be brought before the Privileges Committee for misleading the Parliament,” he said.
Griffith added, “Clearly willing to distort facts and outright lie in his campaign, it is important to remind the public that after two years, not a single civilian, senior police officer, or firearms dealer has been charged with bribery for crimes pertaining to firearm distribution, that occurred during my time as CoP.
“Furthermore, ballistic testing of every legally-owned firearm, which provides a unique signature, quickly dispelled the idea that legal firearms were used in crimes. Instead, it reinforced the harsh truth that, aside from domestic situations, all firearm-related murders over the past two years (some 1000 cases), involved illegal firearms.”
He said if there are a few legal firearms that have not been ballistically tested, it’s the responsibility of the current CoP and Hinds himself, because they could easily address any backlog in a few days.
On the accusation of millions of rounds being imported, Griffith said, “The vast majority was for the Protective Services. And the handful of civilians who have been issued 5.56 and 7.62 ammunition, inclusive of politicians who return it, are only issued a maximum of 50, and each and every year when they reapply for their FUL, they have to account for every single round of ammunition issued to them, making it near impossible for their ammunition to end up in the hands of criminals.”
He said 5.56 ammunition is used in “almost every single military in the world, and 7.62 is also widely issued for competitive shooting worldwide, including T&T, which has been doing so for over 40 years.
Griffith alleged that after being part of the “machinations which shut down the FUL chip card, Hinds is now making wild and unsubstantiated claims that legal ammunition is being used in crimes. And he is doing so in the one place where he can legally lie – Parliament.”
“The facts are, the chip card provided accountability for all ammunition issued, whether it was on a shooting range, issued by firearms dealers, or for personal use, and it made authorities immediately aware of all ammunition individuals were supposed to have at any given time. Why would they shut down the chip card if they genuinely wanted accountability?”
He asked what is to stop criminals from importing ammunition via the same means that they import illegal firearms.