Crime law and order — 02 September 2014 — by Adele Ramos
Gun law amendments to the House on Friday

BELIZE CITY–Revisions introduced to Belize’s gun laws dating back to 2008, and which have been called “draconian,” “demonic” and even “asinine,” could be expunged, at least partially, with a new bill due to be taken to the National Assembly as early as this Friday, September 5, 2014.

Six months ago—amid a howl of protests against the legislation which has seen even elderly persons with no prior criminal record being placed on mandatory remand at the prison, just because they were on the same premises where illegal guns and/or ammunition had allegedly been found—the Barrow administration promised to revisit the laws it had put in place over 6 years ago.

Today, we asked Prime Minister Dean Barrow to update us on the status of that revision, and he told us, “…there is a House meeting next Friday and I hope and believe that the amendments will be presented for first reading at that meeting next Friday.”

As for talk of a study by police on the matter, Barrow told the media today, “I’ve said to the minister in Cabinet we can’t wait on no study on the part of the police, man. We know what has to be done. It’s not easy to cure what everybody sees as a mischief without perhaps making the law too loose and allowing people to get away.”

He said that “it will have to be a very deft drafting exercise…”

Back in February, when the revision of the gun laws was promised, chairman of the Constitution and Foreign Affairs Committee, Collet area representative Patrick Faber, told Amandala that there are several stages that the law revision must go through before it even gets to Parliament.

At the time of our conversation, Faber was in the company of National Security Minister John Saldivar, who indicated that his ministry would start the first round of consultations at the time the bill is being prepared.

Afterwards, the draft bill must be taken to Cabinet before it is tabled in Parliament, where it would be presented for the first reading, we were told.

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