As part of efforts to improve the efficiency of the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA), the entity is moving to clear the backlog of firearm licence applications.
"The objective will be to complete the processing, from application to decision, within a six-month period, Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting said on July 17, during his contribution to the Sectoral Debate in Gordon House.
He said that the authority is now challenged by a large backlog of applications on which no decisions have been rendered. He informed that of the 16,230 applications that have been received by the FLA since its inception some six years ago, only 8,100 have been decided on.
Highlighting other plans to improve the operations of the FLA, Mr. Bunting said that the outdated, cumbersome licensing booklet will be replaced by a “new secure, hi-tech identification card, similar to the current driver's licence, but with enhanced security features."
Also, for the convenience of clients in the western part of the island, an FLA office will be established in Montego Bay to serve St. James, Hanover, Westmoreland, and Trelawny. "We expect that this facility will open in October,” Mr. Bunting said.
In the meantime, the Security Minister informed that to date, 1,500 weapons have been transferred from police divisions in Portland, St. Mary and St. Ann to the FLA. The Minister explained that this is in keeping with new arrangements where firearms previously surrendered to the police for safekeeping are being transferred into the custody of the authority.
"Significant progress has been made in using new technologies to keep track of firearms and their usage. The FLA is now able to capture the unique ballistic signatures of new firearms for which licences have been granted, and the use of this information by the police is making a valuable contribution to crime fighting,” Mr. Bunting said.
The FLA was established in 2006 to take over the responsibility of granting and renewing firearm licences from the Jamaica Constabulary Force.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter