Minister Of Public Safety On Firearm Licences

June 30, 2013

Deputy Premier and Minister of Public Safety, Michael Dunkley, today [June 30] issued a statement regarding the Firearms Amendment Act 2013, particularly as it relates to recent media reports and public commentary surrounding local rifle clubs and the upcoming Island Games.

And Minister Dunkley outlined the intent of the current legislation, noting that it does not take away anything that was already existent in the 1973 Act.

Instead the amendments add a provision to allow locals to be granted a firearm license for a 12 month period in association with a firearm for use at a sanctioned shooting competition.

The Minister explained that the Section which has caused some confusion for target shooting enthusiasts is Section 5 of the Firearms 1973 Act.

  • Subsection 1 provides that a firearm license shall authorise the licensee to possess, purchase, acquire or import a firearm in accordance with the terms of the license.
  • Subsection 2 says that a license will be either an annual license or a temporary license valid for a period not exceeding 60 days.
  • Subsection 2A is the section added by the recent amendment. It says that: “In the case of a firearm for use at a sanctioned shooting competition, by a person possessing Bermuda status or is ordinarily resident in Bermuda, a firearm license shall authorise the licensee to import and possess, for a period not exceeding 12 months a firearm, in accordance with the terms thereof.”

A statement said, “Subsection 2A was added so that residents, who want to practice for a sanctioned shooting competition, using certain prohibited firearms such as air rifles and air guns, will not have to have licenses renewed every 2 months.

“Overseas guests do not have the option of applying for 12 month licenses. This provision has been provided specifically for Bermudians so that they may practice locally, continuously over a period of time, in preparation for a sanctioned shooting competition.

“It is important to point out that previously, the language of the Act prohibited the grant of firearm licenses other than 2 month temporary licenses for prohibited weapons, including air rifles and air guns. Nothing in the principal 1973 Act, or the 2013 Amendment Act, prohibits the Commissioner from renewing a 12 month license for a prohibited firearm.

“Local target shooters can apply for a license renewal at the end of the 12 month period, and the Commissioner of Police will continue to exercise his discretion in the grant of any firearm license.

“To be clear, in exercising his discretion, the Commissioner of Police has determined that in Bermuda’s current climate of gun violence, allowing access to air pistols must be strictly controlled.

“These weapons are the weapon of choice for the few in the community who would use firearms for criminal activity, and have the potential to use dangerous means to obtain lethal weapons. When choosing between the safety of the Island and the sporting hobbies of a relatively small sector of the community, the Ministry must put safety first.

“It should be noted that the Ministry of Public Safety has undertaken to completely review and update the Firearms Act 1973. Much of the language in the Act is outdated and some of the prohibitions and restrictions do not reflect Bermuda’s current climate.

“As a complete update of the Act will take some time, the 2013 amendments were made to allow Bermuda to host shooting competitions during the Island Games and to allow local target shooters to practice locally for these Games and other international target shooting events.”

Minister Dunkley said, “The Ministry of Public Safety is charged with keeping our Island safe and that so, this my top priority. It is unfortunate that the local rifle clubs have misunderstood the intent of these amendments.

“There was indeed consultation with the rifle clubs before these amendments were passed. I accept that some of their issues were not addressed in the 2013 Amendment, but that does not mean that they were ignored.

“The Ministry must first be concerned with the safety of the Island and its residents, and hence in this current climate, releasing pistols from the Police Guard, and having it publicized, is simply not in the best interest of community safety.

“I can assure that the team at the Ministry will conduct a full review of the Firearms legislation and will continue to consult with the rifle clubs to reach compromise.

“The Commissioner of Police has assured me that our local shooters will be given permits in time to practice and participate in the Island Games. I am looking forward to a spectacular competition over the course of the Games.”

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Comments (9)

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  1. Terry says:

    Speaking out of both sides of his mouth.
    Garbage.
    Misunderstood/does not mean they were ignored.
    Hello!!!!!
    Sounds like the PLP all over again.

    • Time Shall Tell says:

      As long as we rely on party politics there will be disappointment. Each politician should stand on their own merit & held accountable like wise instead of standing behind the safety blanket of the party they represent.

  2. Bozey says:

    @Terry…. This is the second time in a few days i agree with you 100%…

  3. Tony Stark says:

    Give Michael a chance he understands what how to please the voters.

    • Tommy Chong says:

      Ah Yes! I’m sure the voters are more pleased that there is a lot less cannabis on the island. Still lots of coke & heroin around but people don’t steal & kill to support their coke & heroin habits. Right? Probably get more drug dealer votes this time around since now they have an excuse to up the price of weed & make more profits. Happy Campers All Around!

  4. James Rego says:

    “To be clear, in exercising his discretion, the Commissioner of Police has determined that in Bermuda’s current climate of gun violence, allowing access to air pistols must be strictly controlled.

    “These weapons are the weapon of choice for the few in the community who would use firearms for criminal activity, and have the potential to use dangerous means to obtain lethal weapons. When choosing between the safety of the Island and the sporting hobbies of a relatively small sector of the community, the Ministry must put safety first.”

    Minister Dunkley, no one in the Gun Clubs are using “Air Guns,” please understand your subject otherwise it appears you don’t have a clue! And by the way, gangsters are not using Air Guns to kill each other, again, please research or ask questions before making such a statement!

    • Independent says:

      @James Rego,

      I was wondering if it was just me. I was saying to myself, these guys use air guns? lol Maybe he is confused.

  5. Tommy Chong says:

    Seems the minister has watched A Christmas Story one too many times. I’m surprised that one of the quotes from the minister wasn’t, “You’ll shoot your eye out.”

  6. I'm just sayin... says:

    Makes you wonder huh? Parkside and 42nd are having air pistol battles now!

    If after how many years these clubs have been around and no one even knew about their existence and no members or their guns have been involved in criminal endeavors, can I just play devils advocate here, let them continue their sport as they obviously haven’t been a threat to the security of the island.

    Why punish the law abiders instead of the law breakers?