Griffith questions Hinds on missing guns

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds – File photo by Roger Jacob

National Transformation Alliance (NTA) political leader Gary Griffith has questioned National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds’ comments about 56 firearms going missing between 2018 and 2023.

Hinds made these statements in the Senate on April 30.

These include 42 legally issued, privately owned firearms and 14 that were issued to members of the police service, Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force (TTDF) and Prison Service.

He was unable to indicate whether any of these firearms were subsequently used in the commital of any crimes.

In a statement, Griffith said, “Quite coincidentally, the focus on firearms being lost was from 2018, not a day before. But as the public would recall, not one firearm issued to civilians between the period 2018-2021, was lost, stolen, missing, or involved in the commission of a crime, as Hinds and others are so fond of implying. The firearms that were lost, stolen or missing were issued before 2018.”

He added, “The reason for this is that a strict criteria and stringent process was used from 2018-2021, with 14 specific criteria for FUL (firearms user licence) applicants to meet before acquiring a FUL. So the public should not be fooled, as the issue is not in the quantity of the firearms issued; it is in the improper process used before 2018.”

Griffith was police commissioner from 2018 to 2020.

He said the process he instituted for the issuance of FULs during his tenure was very strict and stringent.

Griffith said the firearms mentioned by Hinds “pales in comparison to the 10,000 illegal ones reported to be in the country, were broken down, it would show that even fewer were linked to civilians who acquired FULs, but more to do with those in the protective services and at private security firms, rather than personal firearms issued to civilians.”

He added that some of the “stolen” firearms may have happened in situations like a home invasion were FUL holders were attacked by large numbers of armed perpetrators.

Griffith said cases of civilian misuse and mishandling of legally issued firearms are even more statistically rare.

He also dismissed a recent report from Commissioner of Police Erla Harewood-Christopher that 100 legal firearms were “involved in crimes.”