BVI – Gun law returned to legislature

No GunsIn a surprise move yesterday, the government apparently took the first big step towards fulfilling its pre-election promise of stiffer penalties for gun crimes.
It introduced the Firearm and Air Guns Amendment Act 2015 to the House of Assembly, and then steered it through the first reading.
The Bill was not on the original Order Paper which outlines the day’s business for the legislative assembly.
But, moments into yesterday’s sitting (March 12, 2015), Premier Dr. D. Orlando Smith successfully moved a motion for the Order Paper to be amended.

In doing so, the House agreed to add the Firearm and Air Guns Amendment Act 2015, and to withdraw the Fisheries Amendment Act 2015.
The newly added gun Bill will, in a future sitting, be read a second and third time, and also debated. After the debate, the government is expected to have the amended Bill passed, using its 9/4 majority in the House.
If eventually passed, the Bill will then be presented to the Governor for it to be approved and gazetted.

Meanwhile, amid a number of mainly non-fatal gun offences in the territory, there have been numerous calls for the National Democratic Party (NDP) government to fulfill its promise of amending the gun law in order to impose tougher penalties on offenders.
Details of the Bill tabled in the House yesterday are not yet public. But, in its election manifesto, the NDP promised to – among other things – introduce a minimum 10-year sentence for gun crimes.