FINES of up to $1 million plus life imprisonment are among the penalties being threatened in a new bill to curb gun crimes, the Firearms (Amendment) Bill 2019, laid in the Senate on Tuesday by Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi.
This follows Minister of National Security Stuart Young’s recent promise of a crackdown on guns, plus the laying of the Bail (Amendment) Bill 2019 to deny bail to repeat offenders and those who use guns to commit crime.
The Firearms Bill imposes a million dollar fine for several offences: possession, trafficking, manufacturing, and importation.
Someone in possession of a firearm without a firearm users licence faces a $1 million fine and 15 years imprisonment (summary conviction in a magistrate court) or 20 years imprisonment (indictable conviction in High Court) for a first offence. For a second conviction on indictment, they face 25 years jail. A third-time offender faces life imprisonment.
The bill creates a new offence of trafficking in firearms, deemed to occur if someone is in possession of two or more illegal guns. The penalty is a $1 million fine for a first offence and 15 years imprisonment (summary) or 20 years (indictable.) For a second offence it is 25 years imprisonment, and a third offence brings life imprisonment. In a reversal of the notion of presumption of innocence, the bill places the burden of proof on the suspect.
The bill imposes a $1 million fine for a first offence of manufacturing a firearm or ammunition without a gunsmith’s licence and the Police Commissioner’s nod. A third offence brings life imprisonment.
The bill amends the Act in section 31 to impose a $1 million fine and 15 years imprisonment (summary) or 20 years jail (indictment) on anyone who imports a gun without a firearm import licence. Second-time offenders face 25 years jail (on indictment), while a third offence brings life imprisonment.
Otherwise, life imprisonment is also imposed for a third offence by someone who sells or transfers an illegal gun. For a first offence the penalty is a $500,000 fine and ten years imprisonment (summary) or 20 years (indictable), and 25 years for a second offence on indictment.