From left: Opposition politician Ben Exeter and his lawyers, Kay Bacchus-Browne and Israel Bruce. (IWN photo)

The Public Order Act, under which opposition politician Ben Exeter was charged for carrying his licensed gun in public, does not apply to licensed firearms, one of his lawyers said on Tuesday.

Kay Bacchus-Browne, who is also a long-time licensed gun holder, told a press briefing on Monday that she does not think that the Public Order Act has any application as such to a person who has a lawful firearm, adding that this is the remit of the Firearms Act.

“This is the law that governs firearms, not the Public Order Act,” Bacchus-Browne said.

“The Public Order Act, … if you look at the Act, it is ‘An Act to prohibit the wearing of uniforms in connection with political objects and the maintenance of private person of association with military or similar character; to make further provision for the preservation of public order or the occasion of public processions and meeting in any public places,” she said, quoting the law.

“So, obviously, many persons would be wondering why, all of a sudden, it has become an offence to have a firearm in a public place at public meeting.”

Exeter, a candidate for the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) in the Dec. 9 general elections was, last Thursday, charged with carrying his gun to a public meeting.

The charge came two weeks after he was charged with three offences after his arrest in Kingstown, where opposition protesters and government supporters had gathered for the opening of the 10th Parliament.

Bacchus-Browne noted that the   Firearms Act says, “Subject to the proviso of Section 29 (2), a person shall not carry a firearm or ammunition in any public place unless he has on his person a license permit or certificate granted by the appropriate person authorising you to do so.”

Bacchus-Browne, noting that she has a licensed firearm for many years, said that when one is issued to a person, “You are even told by the police that you should keep your firearm with you at all times because it is for your protection.

“It would be ludicrous to give you a firearm, and, on the other hand, say that if you ever went to a public meeting with this firearm that you are committing an offence.”

She told the media that since the charge against Exeter, she has received many inquiries from licensed gun holders “suddenly wondering if it is an offence to appear at a public meeting with a firearm”.

The firearm charge against Exeter came one week after Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, who is also a lawyer and Minister of National Security, suggested at a press conference that such a charge could be brought against him.

But Bacchus-Browne is contending that the events in Kingstown on Dec. 29 did not constitute a public meeting, as defined under the Public Order Act.

“The Public Order Act is dealing with meetings where you have to call the Commissioner of Police or write the Commissioner of Police and get permission to hold the meeting. So even if it is deemed to be a public meeting, I still hold that what was going on when Ben Exeter had his gun was a demonstration, which he has a right to do under the Constitution. The Constitution is the highest law of the land, and it takes precedence over the Public Order Act,” Bacchus-Browne said.

She said that notwithstanding, the Public Order Act cannot take precedence over the Firearms Act.

“The Firearms Act is the act under which he was granted his license.”

Exeter’s next court appearance is on Monday, Jan. 25.

9 replies on “Public Order Act doesn’t apply to licensed gun holders — lawyer  (+Video)”

  1. Jeannine James says:

    An interesting perspective that sounds well-reasoned to a non-legal bystander like me. Ordinary observation of these developments speak of spite, misuse of power and such like. If there is legal merit in this lawyer’s arguments, the professional impotence of SVG’s DPP might become legendary in the region. Maybe his diet of political compromise is repeating on him after all these years.

    1. Jeannine James “ordinary observation” and “developments” leaves me with this perspective that’s troubling. Are you fond of “gossiping”, are you a “cynic’, are you someone that’s scarred for life, or a pretender? Why do you pretend to say so much, but end up saying nothing? Sure beats me. Come on “get over It”, whatever “it’ might be!

  2. This comment about police instructing licensed firearm owners to carry their weapons with them 24/7 has been repeated several times in the past couple of weeks by Ben Exeter’s political supporters but does not correspond either to common sense advice the police might give or to anything I have ever heard or was ever told when I received my license.

    When I first got my licence many year ago, the long-serving and best informed member of the traffic department’s police personnel who notarized the relevant documents and collected the annual fee was quite stern with me when I reminded him that the firearms act does not prohibit the open carry of a weapon, indicating that if I carried my pistol openly it would be taken away from me. This seems quite far removed from police telling people to carry their firearms with them (albeit concealed) all the time.

    And why the hell is Ms. Bacchus-Browne trying this case in public? Oh, I forgot, because its about politics.

    1. Yes, and that is why our PM started trying the case in public immediately after the event… quoting laws that don’t exist and twisting those that do, as usual!

      1. Lostpet, I bet you can’t “back up” the statement that PM “quoting laws that don’t exist…” Are you up to the challenge?
        Bet me! I dare you!
        Anyhow I would like to help, if you don’t mind.
        Please visit “The Guide Dog Foundation For The Blind”, and tell them Vinciman sent you. You’ll get a good “guide dog” for cheap…don’t forget to say Vinciman sent you.
        Love, Vinciman.

  3. “Is Kay Bacchus-Brown saying the PM who is also a lawyer and National Security Minister, don’t know the law? Is that what she’s saying? B[…] dis is getting real interesting!
    Kenton is this show coming over in 3D too, like the Luzette King NDP Comedy Special? Boy, ah carn miss this one”!

  4. When I first got my licensed weapon I was told to carry it on me at all times and to lock it in a safe when not carried.

    I was never told i could not carry it to a public meeting or anywhere else. I was never given a copy of the appropriate Firearms Act, nor were the contents of that Act relayed or mentioned at all to me.

    I have since read the law and I am of the firm opinion that there is nothing that says that a licensed fire arm cannot be taken to a public meeting.

    1. Well everyone is entitled to their “own opinions” even Kay and Peter, but not their “own facts”. The court has spoken.
      Kay was/is wrong, and Peter is never right about anything under the sun, and that’s a fact!

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