Imbert: No increases in firearms licence fees since 1993

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Finance Minister Colm imbert –

FINANCE Minister Colm Imbert said there have been no changes to fees for firearms users’ licences (FUL), certificates and permits for the last 30 years, during the tenure of successive PNM, NAR and UNC governments.

But that is going to change.

Imbert gave this commitment as he opened debate on the Finance Bill 2022 in the House of Representatives on Friday.

The fee for an FUL will be increased from $150 to $300.

Imbert said additional increases to different firearms fees will be dealt with in a second finance bill which the House will debate next month (see list below).

Firearms user’s employee certificates for revenue or other public officer will remain free.

One of the increases will be in the renewal licence fee for assault weapons.

Imbert said, “We need to tighten up the Firearms Act to properly define what exactly is an assault weapon.

After doing his own research, Imbert said in the US an assault weapon is defined as “a semi-automatic weapon that can discharge a significant number of rounds (of ammunition) in a short period of time.”

Once a proper legal definition is obtained for an assault weapon, the user’s fee for assault weapons will be significantly incrreased, Imbert said.

In his budget presentation on September 26, he said, “The licence fees for ownership of assault weapons in private hands will be increased to $5,000 per year, while the annual licence fee for ownership of an assault weapon for use a firing range with be increased to $1,000.”

Imbert reiterated that Government will be increasing other fees and penalties through this bill and the second finance bill next month, including penalties for stealing scrap iron.

Imbert recalled being told by officials at National Petroleum Marketing Company Ltd that the fence and gates at a fuel depot it had in Caroni had been stolen. He also recalled other notable thefts of $200,000 sluice gates and a church bell.

Describing this as out of hand, Imbert said fines for all scrap-metal thefts will be increased from $15,000-$100,000.

Later, Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds listed revenues from firearm permits and fees as: $2.64 million in 2018-2019; $3.23 million in 2019-2020; and $4.61 million in 2020-2021. Saying these earnings totalled over $10 million in a three-year period, he looked forward the bill doubling these revenues.

He remarked however that some firearm licences had been used to certify one person variously owning 15, 16 or 23 firearms purportedly for their personal protection.

Hinds said the country now has 17,600 existing firearms licences, all subject to new fees.

“For the last five years, 2017-2021 there were 7,157 firearms (applications) in the ‘ether’.

“Close to 2,250 of them would have been issued over the last three years.

He made the point that every firearm – legal or illegal – was “a lethal, barrelled weapon” that was very durable. He was pleased to note no fee was charged for disposal permits for firearm owners.

Hinds said some 7,000 illegal firearms seized by the police were being destroyed to prevent them recirculating back into the hands of violent criminals, he said on Friday.(With reporting by Sean Douglas)

Fee increases:

Member of a rifle association: FUL will move from $20 to $40.

Shotgun FUL: from $120- $240.

Firearms users’ employee certificate (handguns): from $80-$160.

Firearms users’ employee certificate (shotgun): from $50-$100.

Firearms dealer’s licence: from $500-$1,000.

Licences for gunsmiths: from $100-$200.

Firearms import permits: from $5-$10.

To take a registered firearm abroad: from $5-$10 per firearm.

Renewing an FUL: from $250-$500.

Pepper spray import permits: from $50-$100. The fees for pepper-spray permits increase by the same amount.