Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves. (IWN file photo)

It is illegal to take an “offensive weapon”, including a licensed gun, to a public meeting, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves says, citing the law.

“I understand that some people feel — and I am not commenting on any particular case — that if you have a licensed firearm it is perfectly in order for you to attend a meeting, a gathering, with a licensed firearm,” Gonsalves, who is a lawyer and Minister of National Security, told a press conference on Thursday.

He quoted section 14 of the Public Order Act, which speaks to prohibition of offensive weapons at public meetings and processions.

Gonsalves noted that under the law, a “public meeting” refers to persons gathered in a public place for a similar purpose.

The law says any person who while present at any public meeting has with him an offensive weapon otherwise than in pursuit of lawful authority is guilty of an offence.”

“Well, you may say that if you have a licensed firearm that is your lawful authority. Well, the law longstops you and say don’t go so fast. Law is right reason, you know; at least 99.9 per cent of the time. Occasionally, the law may be an a-s-s, but the law is basically right reason,” Gonsalves said.

He added that the law says that for the purposes of the section cited, a person shall not be deemed to be acting in pursuance of lawful authority unless he is acting in his capacity as a servant of the Crown or of a local authority or any police officer or a member of any recognised corps or as a member of a fire brigade.

“For example, you are not a servant of the crown if you are an ordinary person going about your business or a successful or defeated candidate for that matter, in an election,” Gonsalves said.

“It is prohibited, and that carries a term of imprisonment of three months and $2,000 fine,” he told reporters.

“I don’t want, in any way, to throw any cold water on anybody protesting, because I understand protest,” said Gonsalves, whose Unity Labour Party came to office in March 2001 on the back of public protest months earlier.

“But just know that there is a legal framework. Know your boundaries, stay within them and if you are taking liberties with the boundaries and the police pull you up, abide by what the police is telling you or suffer the consequences if the police decide to take action under the law,” he said.

8 replies on “Taking a licensed gun to a public meeting is illegal — PM”

  1. We have to thank the PM for helping the NDP rep. by quoting the law. Of course the PM is referring the Mr Exeter’s arrest.
    First:
    That weapon is not an offensive weapon it is a DEFENSIVE weapon
    Second:
    Mr Exeter was there in pursuit of lawful authority. Whether it is determined that he was there to right the wrong of a stolen election or that he was there with the weapon to deter persons from inflicting bodily harm on him or others, that is also a case.
    Maybe we should consider the ULP rep from that Leeward constituency that not only had a weapon at a public meeting but discharged it as well, during the bottle-throwing incident, but then, according to some, that ULP rep already has a criminal record.
    It is so easy to expose the vast hypocrisy of Ralph Gonsalves. What a loser! May God have mercy on SVG. This Dr. Evil will continue to push SVG into the gutter.

  2. “And I am not commenting on any particular case.”

    Oh really?

    Just as he said something like:
    “”It would be irresponsible for me to accuse the NDP of starting that fire.”
    But of course in that little speech the entire content is accusing the NDP of starting the fire. This man is a poor excuse for a human-being. Is that love?
    He preaches “love” but practices hatred. His character has destroyed the morality of this nation.
    May God have mercy on the soul of our nation.

  3. Jeannine James says:

    So, learned counsel, what constitutes a public meeting? What do you call a gathering with your supporters in a public place in Petit BordeL that occasions you to squeeze off a few bullets randomly and dangerously in air for the heck of it especially when you don’t qualify as law enforcement? What is that? A constituent assembly?

    What goes up randomly often come down randomly. A bullet is not a blast of pepper spray. How come you neither urged nor recommended the force of law for that? You were sleeping?

  4. So lets get this right these laws only apply to members of the NDP and most certainly not to members of the ULP.

    For instance a ULP candidate Carlos James recently went to a political event which in law is classed as a demonstration gathering with a loaded gun and fired it off whilst surrounded by a crowd of several hundred people. Gonsalves said that was OK at the time, the man drew and fired a gun and that was OK, because he was a ULP that was OK. No police inquiry, no rebuke, no arrest, no mauling or rough handling by the police. And there were police officers there at the time. But that was OK …

    In another instance, Gonsalves’ press secretary said if he [were in St. Vincent] he would have shot someone who he named. Gonsalves said that was OK that, was only talk.

    Are we missing something here?

  5. Offensive Weapons

    What is an offensive weapon?

    1/ Any object that has been made or adapted to cause injury and can cover anything from purpose built weapons such as guns, cutlass and knives, to a snooker cue being used to swing at somebody. An offensive weapon is any object carried with the intention of causing harm or injury to another person. [intention being the key word]

    There is nothing within the Firearms Act that says a firearm cannot be carried to or during a public meeting by a licensed owner carrying his license or permit. PM Gonsalves misinterpreted what the law actually says. There is also no reference at all to a licensed fire arm in the act being described as an offensive weapon.

    CHAPTER 386
    FIREARMS ACT

    16. Carrying firearm and ammunition in public prohibited
    (1) Subject to the proviso to section 29(2), a person shall not carry a firearm or ammunition in any public place unless he has on his person a licence, permit or certificate granted by the appropriate authority authorising him to do so.
    (2) Any person who contravenes subsection (1) commits an offence and is liable on
    conviction to a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars.

    29. Power of seizure and arrest
    (1) A police officer may require any person carrying a firearm or ammunition in a public place to produce to him his licence or permit.
    (2) If any person fails to produce his licence or permit or refuses to allow the police officer to examine the firearm or ammunition for the purpose of verifying the particulars in the licence or permit, he commits an offence and the police officer may seize and retain the firearm or ammunition until such time as legal proceedings brought against such person are concluded:
    Provided that a person who does not have on his person a licence or permit shall be given five days for its production at a designated police station before proceedings are instituted against him.
    (3) The police officer who seizes and retains a firearm or ammunition under subsection (2) shall require the holder of the firearm or ammunition to declare his name and address.
    (4) A police officer may arrest without a warrant any person who under subsection (3) refuses to give his name and address and whom he reasonably suspects of giving a false name and address or of intending to abscond.
    (5) A police officer may at any time require the holder of a licence or permit to produce for inspection the firearm or ammunition to which it relates and any person who without good cause refuses or fails to do so commits an offence.

    But what should have been considered by the police and DPP is the discharging of a firearm […] by Carlos James if what he did falls within the remit of the following clause of the Act.

    17. Discharging firearm in public prohibited
    (1) A person shall not discharge any firearm or ammunition on or within one hundred yards of any public road or in any public place except—
    (a) in the protection of his person or property or the person or property of some
    other person;
    (b) under the direction of some civil or military authority authorised to give such
    direction;
    (c) ith the permission of the Commissioner of Police.
    (2) Where a contravention of subsection (1) occurs, a police officer may without warrant enter any premises on which he has reasonable cause to believe such contravention was committed and seize any firearm or ammunition found which he has reasonable cause to believe was used in such contravention and may retain such firearm or ammunition for the purpose of any investigation and where legal proceedings are implemented in relation to the offence, until such proceedings are concluded.
    (3) Any person who contravenes this section commits an offence and the burden of proof of the facts tending to establish that the discharge of the firearm was lawful shall be upon the person so asserting.

    So is this simply one law for the ULP and another for the NDP?

  6. 1. The Prime Minister well knows that politicians have been taking loaded firearms to political meetings and demonstrations since the 1950s. Is he going to dig up all their corpses and prosecute them too?

    2. This is a transparent attempt to ensure young Ben flees to his adopted homeland, Canada, to avoid prosecution regardless of the outcome of his electoral appeal.

  7. Comrade as a supporter I say don’t go down that road. You are the Prime Minister not the prosecutor. We all know that the likes of King Arthur was famous carrying his piece around; I’ve seen it for myself and then there is the Carlos James incident in North Leeward. Just focus on moving the country forward and stop giving the opposition fodder to attack you.
    LEAVE THAT ONE ALONE.

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