Home / View Point / Martin Daly / Daly Bread: Rapid-fire threats posed by Delta variant and CoP’s FUL flurry

Daly Bread: Rapid-fire threats posed by Delta variant and CoP’s FUL flurry

The Delta variant is a rapid-fire version of the Covid-19 virus. It is capable of killing many and killing quickly. There are also a growing number of pediatric cases—children having been spared from the original virus.

Two weeks ago the New York Times reported that ‘one in five ICUs (intensive care units) in America now has at least 95 per cent of beds occupied as the summer surge in coronavirus cases overwhelms hospitals, led by the domination of the more contagious Delta variant’.

Image: The Covid-19 Delta variant.

Last week, according to Jamaica’s media, there was ‘intense scrutiny of the government’s planning for the third wave of the virus with the highly transmissible Delta variant’ in the midst of an oxygen shortage ‘in a healthcare system starved of reserves amid a suffocating wave of coronavirus infections’. The opposition leader called for ‘a united summit’, describing ‘the extremely desperate situation now facing the Jamaican people’.

Given the low rate of vaccination, our population is wide open to death or hospitalisation from the Delta variant. The government impotently waits around while its bouffs have failed to motivate the population to get vaccinated.  

Instead, has the time come for legislation—which confirms a margin of flexibility for school principals and employers, to treat with the unvaccinated in the administration of their respective businesses—to be put out for public comment and for consultation on this with the Opposition?

Meanwhile, the Trinidad Express newspaper has disclosed another rapid-fire surge. 

Arising out of a liberalisation of the grant of Firearm Users Licences (FUL),  fearless Express investigative reporter, Denyse Renne, has reported some previously unknown facts about licensed possession of ‘guns, guns and more guns’, as well as a discovery in the Companies Registry that ‘in an approximate two year period, more than 50 businesses had been established to become firearms dealers’.

Photo: Then Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith (left) and TTPS Legal Unit head Christian Chandler.
(via TTPS)

In a recent interview about the regulation of firearms by the Firearms Act, I confirmed that there is no constitutional right to bear arms. There is a right to apply to the commissioner of police (CoP) for a FUL. However, such a licence cannot be granted for a ‘prohibited weapon’.  

Among other types, this is defined as an ‘automatic firearm’, which means ‘any firearm so designed or adapted that if pressure is applied to the trigger, missiles continue to be discharged until pressure is removed from the trigger or until the magazine containing the missiles is empty’.

The phrase introduced by the words ‘so adapted’ or ‘designed’ hopefully includes a weapon which is modified by the use of a modification kit, so as to cause the gun to buck back and forth and bump the trigger finger into contact with the trigger. 

This is important because it has been argued in other jurisdictions that the output of a weapon modified to produce rapid fire by the mechanical bumping of the trigger finger for each round keeps it outside of the definition of ‘automatic firearm’.

Photo: A foreign gun dealership offers weapons for sale.

There is also the problem of weapons with high-capacity magazines from which high-velocity bullets are fired, but which may not fall within the definition of ‘prohibited weapon’.

Following a mass school shooting in Florida, in The Atlantic magazine (18 February 2018), a radiologist contrasted the extent of injuries typically caused by different guns:  

‘A bullet from a handgun leaves a laceration through an organ such as a liver.  There may be bleeding and bullet fragments.’  

Of the victim of a high velocity bullet at the Florida school shooting, the radiologist said: 

‘I was looking at a CT scan of one of the mass shooting victims from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who had been brought to the trauma center during my call shift. The organ looked like an overripe melon smashed by a sledgehammer, and was bleeding extensively.’

Photo: A gun dealership in USA.

Whatever the merits of a liberalised policy in the grant of FULs, I was alarmed to read that the holder of a firearm’s users licence (FUL) was allegedly detained with ‘a sub-machine gun’ in his possession and was said to be ‘a firearms trainer’.

In light of such a report, care must be taken regarding the destructive capacity of weapons to be licensed under the Firearms Act.

About Martin Daly

Martin Daly
Martin G Daly SC is a prominent attorney-at-law. He is a former Independent Senator and past president of the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago. He is chairman of the Pat Bishop Foundation and a steelpan music enthusiast.

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