FACE THE MEDIA: Deputy Commissioner of Police Curt Simon speaks with reporters on Wednesday at Police Administration Building, San Fernando. PHOTO BY AYANNA KINSALE – AYANNA KINSALE
A SENIOR policeman says while people have a right to defend themselves and their property against any criminal threat, they must always do so within the law.
And to heighten this point, the TTPS issued a release on Wednesday outlining the consequences holders of Firearms Users Licence (FUL) can face if they contravene laws within the Firearms Act.
“I continue to implore people about the need to get themselves properly trained in the use of firearms. We do not want people to be holders of FULs and when the need arises, they operate in fear.
“When people operate in fear, there is a lack of continence, and they may do something wrong. We pray against that,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (Intelligence and Investigations) Curt Simon said on Wednesday.
“I do not want people to be afraid to defend themselves. That is why I say people should look to training, proper self-defence techniques and tactics so that in the event they have to defend themselves, they would do so lawfully.”
His comments came after a would-be intruder was shot dead as he tried to force open the door of a house in Chaguanas. The intruder, later identified as Mark Anthony Joseph, was shot in the head by a female occupant who at the time was home with her daughter. The 45-year-old woman used a male relative’s licensed firearm to shoot Joseph dead.
LIGHT THEM UP: Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar who is promising that a UNC government would make access to FULs for law-abiding citizens easier as she called on them to “light up” criminals who try to break into homes and businesses. FILE PHOTO –
The incident was also raised by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar at the UNC’s public meeting on Monday when she promised easier access to FULs by law-abiding citizens. She also said, “When the criminals invade your home, draw your licensed firearms and light them up. Empty the whole clip and reload too. Fight fire with fire.”
On whether charges could be laid arising out of the shooting death of Joseph, DCP Simon said the investigation was ongoing.
“Whatever the facts present, it is what the police will operate on, what the court would operate on. I do not want to stand and say things that people would be afraid of defending themselves. Each case is investigated on its own merit, based on the existing circumstances,” Simon said.
“People can defend themselves with whatever is before them. They must just ensure that their defence is within a certain remit which the law already prescribed.”
He spoke to reporters at Police Administration Building in San Fernando, where police from Project GRACE (Gang Reduction and Community Empowerment) held a back-to-school drive and distributed stationery supplies to 60 students.
Asked for a comment on Persad-Bissessar’s comments at the UNC’s meeting on Monday night, DCP Simon said he would not do so since he preferred to “stay away from what is said on political platforms.”
Simon said: “People can take what I am saying as it relates to any advice. They would want to hear from the police as we are the leading investigating authority in TT regarding any crime.”
What the law says
A TTPS press release on Wednesay said that the Firearms Act, Chapter 16:01, Section 6 (1), states, A person may have in his possession a firearm or ammunition only if he holds a firearm user’s licence (FUL) with respect to such firearm or ammunition.
The TTPS pointed out that Section 6 (3) states: Any person who contravenes any of the provisions of this section is liable in the case of – (a) an offence under subsection (1) – (i) on summary conviction to a fine of $15,000 and to imprisonment for eight years; or (ii) on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for 15 years.
The TTPS urged FUL holders to follow the law at all times relating to the possession and discharge of firearms.
The release said, Section 11 (1) of the Act states: A person who discharges a firearm or ammunition on or within 40 metres of any public road or in any public place, is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $15,000, except where he does so – (a) in the lawful protection of his person or property or of the person or property of some other person.