The Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) has launched a new High Security Identification Card, which will be available as of Monday, April 22.
The new card, which is similar in size to a credit card, has several security features to guard against replication, and it captures and stores the picture, finger prints and signature of the holder.
National Security Minister, Hon. Peter Bunting, said he is looking forward to gains in law enforcement and security, which will result from the implementation of the new high security card system
Addressing the launch at the Ministry of National Security, on Friday, April 18, Mr. Bunting noted that with the introduction of the new card, the FLA hopes to eliminate the old licence within a year.
“The old booklet was not just cumbersome and inconvenient, but it was very vulnerable to fraud in terms of replacing, tampering with photograph (and) other information in the booklet. So, with the introduction of this card, we hope to eliminate that booklet within one year,” he said.
There is no additional cost to replace the card, which is renewable on the holder’s birthday.
The Security Minister also informed that he has tasked the head of the FLA, to develop a smart phone application that “will link the database of licensed firearm holders, their photographs, all the biometric information, with police officers who are out there conducting vehicle checkpoints, so that even if somebody is so good as to be able to fraudulently produce one of these cards, then the officer on the street can still, if they are suspicious, verify the information with the database.”
He congratulated the FLA team for implementing the new system, noting that it will lead to improved accountability and greater efficiency in the operations of the Authority.
The Minister also noted that the FLA has been making significant progress in using new technologies to keep track of firearms and their usage, by capturing the unique ballistic signatures of new firearms for which licences have been granted. He pointed out that since last year, the process has been intensified with the recertification of firearm holders who have had their firearms for more than five years.
“The goal of this exercise is to obtain the ballistics signature of all legal firearms within two years,” he said.
Mr. Bunting also informed that his Ministry has been moving to infuse modern technology and processes into its operations and that of all its departments and agencies.
“Agencies in the Ministry of National Security must modernize their business processes to keep pace with developments in industry and in the private sector. We can be sure that the criminals will be keeping pace, so we have to be one step ahead of them in safeguarding the interest of law-abiding citizens,” he added.
In the meantime, Chairman of the Firearm Licensing Authority, Robert Gregory, said the introduction of the new High Security Identification Card System will move the FLA much closer this year to becoming a world class Jamaican public sector agency, which delivers customer confidence and satisfaction.
He said that holders of the new card are to be viewed as responsible members of the wider national security community in Jamaica.
“The Jamaican public can rest assured that every licensed owner of this new high Security Identification Card will have been thoroughly and vigorously investigated, trained, assessed and certified as competent to keep and carry a firearm,” he said.
Project Manager at the FLA, Michael Dixon, explained that the design of the new card takes several things into consideration, chief of which is the ability of the law enforcement community to authenticate the cards through the use of visible features.
He noted that the card consists of five different layers, all of which have some security features and which have to be fused together in a specific order to give the card its unique look.
By Andrea Braham, JIS Reporter