A lawyer defending a Vincentian veteran of the British and US armies, who was denied a licence to hold a fire firearm in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), says applying for firearm licence in SVG is “a quagmire”.

Grant Connell made the claim at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court on Friday while mitigating on behalf of his client, Hermus Patrick, 84, of Layou, who pleaded guilty to possession of a .38 revolver and 115 rounds of ammunition without a licence.

Police discovered the firearm and ammunition at Patrick’s homes in Layou, when they conducted a raid.

The veteran of the British Army and the United States Army told the lawmen that he had the firearm and the ammunition since the 1970s.

Connell told the court that his client was denied a permit multiple times when Keith Miller was Commissioner of Police.

“And the point of applying for a firearm, that is a quagmire,” he told the court.

The lawyer said he was passing by the area of the geothermal energy project in North Windward recently, and he saw a woman “no more than 21, 22 years old come out the pond and put a firearm in her waist.

“… Little girl, … who have these firearms and big men, Financial Comptroller of Mustique Company can’t get,” Connell said.

Stephen Joachim, the financial comptroller of Mustique Company, has said on radio that he was denied permission to hold a firearm.

Connell added: “I know some journalists who can’t get [a firearm licence]  — and people who are in positions and need protection.”

Lawyer Grant Connell. (iWN file photo)

Speaking specifically about his client, Connell said:  

“What does this man do? His place has been burglarised six times. What does a man do, of his calibre, when a criminal comes in and points a 9 mm at his face? What does a farmer do when a man comes in and points a shotgun? Put a plantain in your pocket and pretend you have a gun?”

Connell said that, by no stretch of the imagination, is his client a threat to the society.

“You will also be aware of the society in which we live, in which the moral fabric is almost totally destroyed…

“Where do elders such as this man stand? I will tell you, there is absolutely no respect for them. I would say that Mr. Patrick is not a threat to the society. This society that borders on a Hobbesian society –brutish — is a threat to him.”

He said that Patrick had the gun and ammunition in “the bosom” of his house and police may have acted on information provided by someone with whom Patrick is involved in a civil matter in another jurisdiction.

Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett adjourned Patrick’s sentencing to this Friday.

Patrick’s EC$10,000 bail continues.

The power to grant firearm licences used to be vested solely in the Commissioner of Police.

However, the Unity Labour Party has changed this, granting that power to a board, members of which include the police chief and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security.

iWitness News understands that some applicants who are denied firearm permits are simply told that their application is denied.

A senior national security official has told iWitness News that applicants who feel that the board was “capricious” in denying such a permit can appeal to the Cabinet.

14 replies on “Applying for a firearm ‘a quagmire’ in SVG — lawyer”

  1. Vincy Lawyer says:

    I don’t agree with what the defendant did but I do agree that the processes and procedures of acquiring a licence is tedious.

    I have colleagues whose applications are pending for years now. I also know of convicted persons who have been granted licences after their convictions.

    The criteria or lack thereof is unknown.

    This entire process needs an urgent make over.

  2. Sorry to hear about this Pato. I hope the magistrate will take into consideration the latest invasion of a home and what happened to the man and his wife. People have to defend their homes and lives and if only criminals can poses guns, then there is something wrong with the system.
    Home owners especially those in Layou should be given gun permits. Don’t forget there are several unsolved murders that occurs in Layou. When I am in SVG all I have is a cutlass in my bedroom.

  3. Sandra Bullock says:

    I am happy that Mr. Financial controller was not given a license. That man would have shot someone due to go his
    arrogance. I am happy there are conttold in place prev ed bring such people carting around guns. They are happy to he gunslingers.

  4. Gersham Alexander says:

    A veteran of the British and US armies should be allowed a firearm. Come on S.V.G its about time that the authorities allow law abiding citizens licensed
    firearms to protect themselves

  5. That is why good decent law abiding citizens end up having illegal guns. If they apply for a gun license and is denied, they take a chance and acquire an illegal firearm. In these times that we are living in good decent law abiding citizens should be given gun licenses to protect their property and love ones. Most criminals have the latest gun available and terrorizes the rest of society. I’m sorry that Mr. Patrick find himself in this situation especially at his ripe age. This man has served in too armies and should be well trained in the use of firearms. I hope the learned magistrate will show great compassion.

  6. It’s very much says something about our system,,a 22yr female granted a firearm licence,who hardly have experience in life,, oppose to a man who over 50yrs, man who also have experience about guns,,,,,,who, was robbed multiple times,,,,,,sad indeed!!!!

  7. Rawlston Pompey says:

    UNHELPFUL MITIGATING RHETORIC

    Not sure,

    (a) …Quagmire in applying for firearm licence;

    (b) …Commissioner of Police Keith Miller had refused to grant licence;

    (c) …Defence attorney saw little girl 21 or 22 with firearm; and

    (d) …Unity Labor Party changing law to put power in a Board.’

    These can be considered ‘…Unhelpful Mitigating Rhetoric.’

    These bear no persuasion, and certainly will not convince a ‘…Sentencing Magistrate,’ to see the 84 year-old defendant as a victim to be considered for special leniency.

    An attorney shall know that the charges pleaded guilty to by his client are serious ‘…Strict Liability offences.’

    The defendant knew he had possession of a firearm and ammunition that he shall have a licence to legitimately own and use.

    He also knew that there were consequences, if he did not procure the related licence from the relevant authority.

    Whether through informants or otherwise, the police found him in illegal possession.

    This is what is before the Court and that which is now under consideration is ‘…Sentencing.’

    With those ‘…Unhelpful Rhetoric, he run the risk of the Magistrate viewing them as ‘…Aggravating factors’ as opposed to ‘…mitigating factors.’

    Thus, he cannot be singled out for ‘…special leniency’ for reasons of,

    (i) …gender and that he is an old man;

    (ii) …a veteran of two foreign armies;

    (iii) …that society is more of a threat to him, than he is to society.’

    What might assist him in some measure was, (a) …his full cooperation with the police; and

    (b) …not wasting the Court’s time by readily pleading guilty to the charges.’

    He may hope for the best, but at the same time, expect the worse.

    1. Spot on analysis. I thought the same when I heard the rhetoric by my Learned Colleague, as I do not see them being helpful to the sentencing.

      However, you can’t dispute the facts about the process of the grant of a firearm licence. Though, it may not have been the best time to raise the shortcomings, they ought to be raised.

  8. This is Mr Mac l just sent you an email that if you are a ULP y can just càll and get you gun pormiy.but it seems like a worng email address where sent.so put it as Mr Mac

  9. The playing field is not level gunslingers are allowed to carry guns around but honest citizens do not .

  10. It’s is also dangerous to approve gun license to certain individuals who may have a propensity to kill. One example is the journalist who killed an individual in Arnos Valein a love triangle rage. He is now where he belongs at club Bellisle. That accountant has a similar temperament.

  11. Some of these lawyers want to turn St Vincent into the wild wild west. Then they use the excuse ad being a virgin of the law in mitigation. Guns are made for one purpose only, and that is to take a life whether justifiable or not. Least we forget, that guns and made to take a life.

  12. Curtlon pereira says:

    Am a veteran of two military services in the United states. And now a retired correction officer living in St. Vincent I have a license firearm in New York City I have been waiting 6 years for a license in st. Vincent. I give up all hopes of getting one at this point and time.

    1. Culron you will be just fine. You have been without it for six years and can do without bit . New laws are not vincy laws.Please do not try to equate the two.

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