By Angelos Anastasiou
THE CHIEF of police has revoked tens, if not hundreds, of permits to hold firearms, following investigations, thus indicating that the Firearms Law need not be amended, Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said yesterday.
In the aftermath of an incident in Limassol on Wednesday, when a man used his shotgun against his 19-year-old son over his insistence on taking the family car, Nicolaou was asked to weigh in on whether amendments to the law were required in order to prevent unfit people from obtaining a permit for a gun.
Speaking on state radio on Friday morning, Nicolaou argued that the fact that the chief of police – who has sole authority over revoking firearm possession permits – has retracted “possibly hundreds” of permits would suggest that the law need not be changed.
“I believe the Firearms Law offers sufficient control mechanisms,” he said.
“The chief of police, through numerous letters he has despatched, has informed me of the revocation of many permits – on psychological, or other, grounds – and many of these people have appealed his decision.”
As appeals to the police chief’s decision are filed with the justice minister, Nicolaou said he could estimate the total number of revocations from the number of appeals that made it to his desk.
“The total number runs in the tens, at least – if not hundreds,” he said.
“I say ‘at least’ because, as minister, whom the law designates as responsible for reviewing appeals to the chief’s decisions, I have reviewed tens of objections.”
But Nicolaou hastened to add that the provisions of the Firearms Law have been deemed adequate inasmuch as they relate to shotguns – i.e. permits issued for guns used for hunting small birds and hares – but not army-issue rifles handed out to all able-bodied reservists in the National Guard.
“With regard to the Firearms Law, no amendment was required for control mechanisms to be put in place,” Nicolaou said.
“The police have devised a control mechanism, and through it revoked many firearm possession permits.”
But, he warned, control of the army-issue rifles are another matter.
“More work needs to be done on control with regard to these rifles,” he said, acknowledging that last year’s pledges for more effective gun control – triggered by yet another family tragedy, then featuring an army rifle – have not yet materialised.