Young: I never owned an automatic firearm

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Stuart Young –

ENERGY Minister Stuart Young says he never owned an automatic firearm.

But Young admitted that he did donate a legal firearm to the police service.

Responding to claims made by Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal at a news conference on Sunday that he admitted to surrendering an automatic firearm to the police recently, Young reiterated his initial response to that claim on the same day.

“As I have clearly stated before, I have never been in possession of an automatic firearm.”

Young, a former national security minister, said, “The possession and disposal of any legal firearm must be authorised and approved by a Commissioner of Police (CoP).

“I did donate a legal weapon to the TTPS (Trinidad and Tobago Police Service) and at all times I have abided by the laws of TT.”

In a statement on Tuesday, Moonilal insisted Young had admitted to disposing of a high-powered firearm.

“Now that he has admitted to gifting the gun to the police service, he has a national responsibility to make full disclosures on all relevant aspects of his donation.”

Moonilal called on CoP Erla Harewood-Christopher to disclose “what is the practice, procedure and policy they have adopted in order to receive donations of firearms and ammunition from citizens, including the donor Mr Young.”

He said Harewood-Christopher “may also want to indicate how many private citizens have donated their legal firearms to the TTPS over the past ten years and under what circumstances.”

Earlier this month, attorneys representing UNC activist Ravi Balgobin Maharaj sought a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) disclosure from Harewood-Christopher about her alleged failure and/or refusal to grant people new firearm user’s licences (FUL) owing to an ongoing audit.

Newsday understands there is a 90-day period for Harewood-Christopher to respond to the request.

Part of the request asked Harewood-Christopher to respond to reports of a “secret surrender” of a “deadly weapon” by “a government official.”

This matter was first raised by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar at a UNC cottage meeting in Arima on August 10.

Persad-Bissessar alleged that a government official had recently arranged to “go drop off their ‘matic’ at MOPS” (Multi-Operational Police Section).

She claimed the UNC knew all the people involved and the serial number of the alleged weapon as well.

“We are just waiting.”

Persad-Bissessar also said, “When we return to government, I will offer a ‘gun amnesty’ to all the PNM MPs and commentators who have legal firearms so they can give it back.”

Balgobin Maharaj’s attorneys also called on Harewood-Christopher to say how many legal guns issued to people with valid FULs were used in murders from January 1, 2020-July 31, 2023.

In a separate statement on Tuesday, National Transformation Alliance political leader Gary Griffith called for a comprehensive investigation into Young’s admission that he had donated a legal firearm to the police.

Griffith, a former CoP, said a ” forensic examination and subsequent report regarding the firearm’s status must be conducted and made accessible to the public.”