Today’s Opinion 2: “Gun licenses”

POSTED: 03/8/11 12:33 PM

Justice Minister Roland Duncan’s decree that regulates the conditions for gun licenses leaves many questions unanswered. That the decree will be a topic of discussion this week, just after the island has been hit by an unprecedented spike in violent murders, will make thoughtful and balanced discussion a tad complicated, though obviously not impossible. But the risk that politicians will get caught up in the delusion of the day is real.
First of all, we have to agree with the Minister that it is time to regulate gun possession. However, given the scope of armed violence on the island, we’d think that such regulations would be highly restrictive and limit the possibilities to own a licensed gun.
But this is not the case. Okay, applicants for a gun license must pass a psychological test. Who is going to perform that test? What are the standards? Who will control that psychological tests do not become the new Brooks tower accord papers – for sale for anyone who happens to have the money for them?
That prospective gun owners have to pass a shooting test seems also to be logical. But again: what are the standards? There is nothing in the decree or in the explanatory notes that gives us a hunt.
The statement about the applicant’s behavior is a standard declaration by the Justice Minister. The last requirement, a medical test, is rather pointless, because these statements are up for grabs for those who know the right doctor, or up for sale for who can afford it.
But what we miss most in the decree are rules about where and when a licensed gun owner is allowed to carry his weapon. At home? On his way from his house to his office? In restaurants or casinos? Anywhere and everywhere?
In Aruba, one of the requirements is that gun owners have to be members of a shooting association. They are only allowed to carry their weapon on the shortest route from their home to the shooting range.
Minister Duncan’s decree leaves all this up in the air. That means that supermarkets could be soon filled with gun-toting shoppers, that shopping becomes a potential shoot out at the OK Corral, and that a day on the beach could potentially get an ugly ending.
The other risk is that licensed gun holders may get sloppy, that kids may get their hands on the weapon and that they may injure themselves or worse. And when that happens, Chief Prosecutor Mos, said a couple of weeks ago, the minister is not the one to clean up the mess.

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