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Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, has lauded the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) for its rapid progress in tackling the backlog of applications for firearms.

The Minister noted that the FLA has been processing an average of over 500 applications per month and has significantly reduced the backlog.

“At the time they (the board) came to office, the FLA had only processed approximately half of the applications that they had received since their inception and therefore had a backlog of thousands of applications…. This new board has, in 10 months, processed an average of over 500 applications per month, virtually eliminating the backlog that existed when they came into office,” he stated.

He was addressing the launch of the new High Security Identification Card system introduced by the FLA, earlier Thursday, April 18, at the Ministry of National Security in Kingston.

The new card, which is similar in size to a credit card, has several security features to guard against replication and it captures the biometric details of the holder. It replaces the hand written booklets that were deemed outdated, cumbersome and vulnerable to fraud.

The Minster praised the FLA for continuing to distinguish itself as an agency characterized by innovation, pointing out that over the past fiscal year, it had achieved several targets, including the opening of the Western regional office to decentralize operations and strengthen its institutional capacity.

This new office has been handling approximately a quarter of all the applications and renewals that take place each month, he said.

Chairman of the FLA Robert Gregory, stated that the ability of a Jamaican citizen to bear arms is a privilege carefully granted under the Firearm Act with the vested authority of the Minister of National Security.

By Andrea Braham, JIS Reporter