Seelall Defends Decision to Grant Himself Gun Licence

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Ramjattan Confirms he Ordered that the License be Revoked

GEORGETOWN, Guyana – The outgoing police commissioner, Seelall Persaud, has defended a decision to grant himself a firearm licence saying he is not the first holder of the office to have done so.

“If you look historically over the past twenty-five years, you would see that all the Commissioners, maybe with the exception of one, granted themselves firearm licences,” he said.

Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan confirmed he had revoked the gun dealership license that Persaud had given to himself.

“Yes I revoked the license as soon as I learnt of it. He thought he could have done it I suppose, but I ordered the revocation”, Ramjattan said.

The state-owned, Guyana Chronicle newspaper reported that the former police commissioner had applied to himself for a gun dealership license back in January under a company he owns, and granted himself the license.

But Persaud, speaking to reporters following after he attended a farewell parade on Wednesday said he saw nothing wrong in his actions and that he would no longer be pursuing the license for a firearm dealership.

“We live in a society today where one set of circumstances are good for one person but not good for the other,” he said, adding that he does not intend to challenge the decision taken by Ramjattan.

Earlier in the week Seelall was reported by Demerara Waves online news as saying that he was merely following what most other outgoing Police Commissioners had done. “If you look historically over the past twenty-five years, you would see that all the Commissioners, maybe with the exception of one, granted themselves firearm licences,” he was quoted by the online news agency as saying shortly after his farewell parade.

With regards to the self-granting of a firearm dealership, according to Demwaves, he said the records also show that in the 1980s, a then outgoing Police Commissioner had also done so. Persaud was reported as saying he decided to apply for the dealership certificate so close to his retirement because the business would have started only after he retires in April at the end of 34 years.

“It’s a business. I can’t do business on the job and it will only operationalised after I leave the job,” he was reported as saying, adding that he has since decided not to pursue that line of business anymore.

According to Demerara Waves, the Firearms Act does not empower the Minister to revoke a firearm dealer’s licence; only the prescribed officer in the area. The law requires applications to be sent to the Police Commissioner who is required to conduct a background check to ascertain whether that person has any criminal report, is engaged in any illegal activity, a threat to national security or is engaged in any other activity that will render him ineligible to become a licensed firearms dealer.

The law states that a report on the findings must be sent to the Minister who will then dispatch it to the Firearms Licensing Approval Board for a review. The Board then recommends to the Minister whether a licensed firearms dealership should be granted to the applicant and the Minister then decides, either in his own deliberate judgement or on the basis of the recommendation, whether a firearm dealership certificate should be issued.

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