by Curlan Campbell
- Shooting range at Petit Etang, St David established in 2003
- Firearms Act of 1968 last amended in 2008
- Police concerned on overall safety and security of nation
Grenada’s Firearms Act of 1968 needs to evolve to regulate and accommodate the sport of recreational shooting following its recognition as an official sport by the Grenada Olympic Association.
Under the Act, last amended in 2008, low-powered air weapons including air rifles and air pistols (air guns), used in recreational or sport shooting are considered “small arms” and are therefore regulated, except for the .68 paint gun.
The Act interprets a firearm as “any lethal barrelled weapon from which any shot, bullet or other missiles can be discharged, or any restricted weapon or, unless the context otherwise requires, any prohibited weapon; and includes any component part of any such weapon and any accessory to any such weapon designed or adapted to diminish the noise or flash caused by firing the weapon, but does not include an Air rifle, Air gun, or Air Pistol of a type prescribed by the Minister and of a calibre so prescribed.”
On Wednesday, 11 January 2023, Grenada Gun and Rifle Association (GGRA) Executives held their first executive meeting with other stakeholders including representatives from the Ministry of Sport, Paralympics Association, Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) and the Grenada Tourism Authority, to chart the way forward for the development of the sport.
President Duane Noel said it was crucial to engage these stakeholders especially the RGPF to ensure going forward all are involved in the decision-making process, especially concerning crafting new insertions into the legislation that will ensure the safe, ethical and responsible regulation and use of low-powered air guns, pistols, shotguns and rifles for sport shooting.
He said the current regulation did not foresee the development in sport shooting as it is now. In addition, other countries in the region have laws and policies that specifically address Sport Shooting, and Grenada needs to develop laws to accommodate sport shooting. Due to the lack of proper regulation, the GGRA is at a disadvantage when compared to other associations regionally and internationally in terms of their access to proper sporting guns, which affects their ability to prepare for competitions.
“When we compete internationally, we are competing against individuals who are younger than us and have access to better sporting guns. It therefore means we are at a disadvantage in Grenada when travelling to compete. The change to the legislation is critical to help in the development of this sport. We have persons on board who will work along and guide us in making suitable recommendations to the RGPF, who will have their input and hopefully these can be added to their final draft submission,” Noel said.
While the RGPF has taken a partnership stakeholder approach to the development of sport shooting in Grenada, they have expressed concerns regarding the overall safety and security of the nation.
During his address to the executives of the GGRA, Police Commissioner Edvin Martin expressed concern about the proliferation of illegal firearm possession among the populace. He stated that for the year 2022 the RGPF seized 30 illegal firearms compared to 13 from the previous year. He said there are other pressing issues regarding the number of reported shootings and while these incidents have claimed no lives, he said it is still cause for concern. Another area of concern is the potential for replica air guns to get into the hands of unlicenced owners and the potential to be used in illegal activities because of their close proximity in appearance to a real high-power gun.
The Police Commissioner also pointed to the need for the association to assist in addressing the proliferation of air rifles and their use in the hunting of endangered species outside of the stipulated season. Martin, while applauding the association for stepping up its security and safety precautions at the range, reminded that there was still room for improvement and provided several recommendations for the GGRA to consider.
Commissioner Martin also informed the GGRA membership that RGPF has finalised new firearm licence cards, which will soon be issued once a determination can be made whether there will be a charge for firearm holders.
The GGRA president is anticipating the growth of its membership to involve younger people, including recruiting more women interested in the sport. He said as part of this drive to grow their membership, there are a few areas that must be addressed. “It will involve making changes to our own policy as it relates to the age you can start shooting. We are in the process of putting together a plan to submit to the RGPF so that we can determine at what age young people can start shooting. Also, access to the range is one of our biggest challenges for members who are from the Paralympics. It therefore means access to the range would be extremely difficult. As such, an alternative range facility is required.”
Meanwhile, discussions continue between the GGRA and the Ministry of Sports to have the sport earmarked for 2023 inclusion into the sporting calendar now that the GGRA is an affiliated body of the Grenada Olympic Association.
Since establishing the shooting range at Petit Etang, St David in 2003, the GGRA boasts of no major incidents or injuries. This is testament to the level of safety and security measures that are put in place. Noel believes this level of security and safety can further be maintained and improved by continuing to educate its members on gun safety and developing new training programmes in the future.