The issue of an upgraded firearm to Axel Williams must be fully investigated
Stabroek News
February 15, 2004

Related Links: Letters on Axel Williams
Articles Menu Archival Menu

Dear Editor,

Commissioner McDonald's response to questions surrounding his signature authorising an upgrade to the firearm privilege of Axel Williams is, to use a euphemism, palpably ludicrous. Length of service in a public institution does not give one a pass, in terms of accounting for one's questionable official decisions.

The standards for becoming a licenced firearm holder are very high in Guyana. I mean, of course, the laid down standards. Besides presenting a provable claim for the issuance of such licence, an applicant's conduct and behavior must be provably exemplary. In addition, testimonials from two other upstanding citizens must be presented to buttress the applicant's claim for a firearm licence.

The questionable circumstances surrounding Williams' use of his firearm would have required, under these regulations, immediate seizure of the gun, and absolute revocation of his licence if the circumstances are as they were reported. Any upgrade to firearm privileges under such circumstances without completing bona fide investigations into the previous lethal use of the firearm is therefore an issue that demands a more coherent response than "I served for thirty years so don't harass me."

It would be interesting to learn the identities of the persons supplying testimonials for Williams and others. I think that is or should be public information. The process that legally put guns into the hands of people who clearly could not satisfy the temperamental criterion for owning and carrying firearms is probably as good a place as any from which to begin an investigation into the whole fiasco.

And the independent press should not wait on the Government before initiating such investigation. These are the kinds of things journalists and reporters do. They investigate the rich and powerful when public interest demands it. They police the government and its organizations for the benefit of the public. And this kind of investigation will not require any cloak and dagger undercover stuff, or an expansive expense account.

Everything should be in a file at the Firearm Records Office. And the source station or department where the application process began would also have duplicate files. Go there and ask to view the files, and seek a Court order if necessary. Find out the reasons given in the applications for firearm licences, which police officer carried out the investigation, and so on and so forth. The firearm regulations convey the premise that public protection supercedes one's claim for a firearm licence. It also expressedly conditions the custody, care and use of a firearm. And such use should only occur after a licencee had exhausted all other means of defending himself or herself, or could not retreat or withdraw.

Assistant Commissioner Paul Slowe followed the law when he seized a firearm while the circumstances surrounding its discharge was being investigated. Commissioner Mc Donald's approval of an upgrade in the firearm license of a person who recently shot someone to death appears, in contrast, terribly irresponsible and prima facie evidence of a contravention of the firearm regulations.

Yours faithfully,

Keith R Williams