Tuesday, Jul 23, 2019
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Confiscated firearms to be machine marked

In an attempt to keep illegal guns confiscated by the police off the streets, The Bahamas will begin to machine mark those weapons in order to easily identify them later, Minister of National Security, Tommy Turnquest toldThe Nassau Guardianyesterday.

Turnquest said while confiscated guns are inevitably destroyed after they are used as evidence, he revealed that some of those weapons end up back on the streets.

The Bahamas signed a cooperation agreement to begin the project”Promoting Firearms Marking in Latin America and the Caribbean”, with the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States(OAS), as well as the governments of Costa Rica, Paraguay and Uruguay on Monday.

The agreement’s main purpose is to counteract the illicit manufacturing and trafficking in firearms, ammunition explosives and related materials, and strengthen national capacities in this area as well as provide marking equipment and training to beneficiary countries.

Turnquest said much of the illegal guns that enter The Bahamas are manufactured in the United States.

“We also have an eTrace system(used by)the police and we’re able to determine the origin of a firearm,”he said.”So we can say where a firearm was purchased, most of which are from the United States, where they change hands and end up(being used by)criminal enterprises.”

Turnquest added that intelligence has revealed to police officials the routes used to bring some of those weapons into the country, though he was reluctant to say what they are.

He did confirm, however, that police are looking at pleasure boats as one source. Those boats are allowed to travel into the country with firearms, but those weapons and their ammunition must be properly logged and documented and must remain on board the vessels.

“We have some intelligence on some of them(trafficking routes),”Turnquest said.

“It is difficult because of the nature of our country. That(a pleasure boat)is obviously something that’s checked.”

The new firearm marking initiative will allow guns to be tracked across borders and allow law enforcement officials in other countries to trace their exact origin.

Turnquest said The Bahamas will receive machine marking equipment from the OAS that will be used to mark the firearms.”It’s really a marking machine to deal with illicit trafficking and the use of firearms,”he said.

Bahamas Ambassador to the United States Cornelius A. Smith, who signed the agreement on behalf of The Bahamas on Monday, told OAS officials that the project is”very important for my country because we have become a transit point for drugs and small arms.”

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