AS the seemingly never-ending battle with crime continues, and police continue to snatch illegal weapons out of the hands of criminals, one weapon has gone unfettered, until today. That weapon is the crossbow.
During the weekly press briefing at the Police Administration Building on Edward Street, Port of Spain, Sgt David Swanson, second division officer in charge of the Firearms Section announced that the importation of crossbows would be restricted with immediate effect.
Swanson said the office of the Commissioner of Police will be liaising with the office of the Comptroller of the Customs and Excise Division to stymie the importation of the weapon.
“It was an unfettered industry where people were bringing in air rifles and crossbows and other similar items for sport,” Swanson said. “The CoP has seen it fit to put regulation to it so there is more control to who has access to these weapons.”
Swanson warned that a crossbow can fire from a “vast distance” and is a silent killer.
“You wouldn’t even know where it comes from,” he said.
Newsday understands the range of a high-powered crossbow – one which could fire at a rate of 300 feet per second – can travel a distance between 50 and 60 yards. The weapon which was invented in ancient China is still used today for sport hunting.
While Swanson said there have been no reported murders, homicides, woundings or assaults involving crossbows, the restrictions are being made as a pre-emptive measure.
"If the criminals knew the effectiveness – and thank God they didn’t – then things may have been worse.
"This is a pre-emptive measure, because we didn’t want something to happen and someone asks why there was no regulation to the crossbows."
Swanson announced that with immediate effect, the importation and sale of air rifles will only be executed by firearm dealers. All existing import permits which belong to private citizens are with immediate effect considered null and void.
Dealers are now required to keep proper records of sale of any air rifle or crossbow and bring the sale to the attention of the Commissioner of Police.
Air rifle clubs must be registered by the Commissioner, have a certified range officer present when practising and adhere to the safety rules set by the police.
People found with air rifles, but not the relevant permission will have their rifles seized.