Trial of Gun Court defendant to begin tomorrow
The government this month reintroduced the Gun Court in an attempt to ensure that firearms offenses are prosecuted quickly. The trial of one of the first defendants brought before the court is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, less than two weeks after his initial appearance before Magistrate Guillimina Archer.
Assistant Commissioner Hulan Hanna, who heads media relations, toldThe Nassau Guardianyesterday that he believes the firearms examiners in the Forensic Lab would be able to have guns tested in time for trial dates, despite the shortened adjournments.”The competency, efficiency and effectiveness of the men of our Forensic Lab has been demonstrated time and time again,”he said.
In the past, firearms cases had to be put off because the guns had not been tested. Prosecutors must prove that weapons are capable of inflicting injury or death.
Hanna did not want to disclose how many firearms examiners are on the force, butThe Guardianhas learned that there are only two of them.
According to police data, guns were used in 69 out of the 94 murders recorded in 2010. During that period, police seized 351 illegal firearms and 6,224 rounds of ammunition. In 2009, police seized 312 illegal firearms and 4,388 rounds of ammunition and they also seized 311 firearms in 2008.
Senior police officials have promised to focus on illegal gun possession. Assistant Commissioner Glenn Miller said recently,”We are extremely concerned about the high incidence of illegal firearms being used in criminal offenses in The Bahamas, such as armed robberies, house-breakings and burglaries, and in many cases threats of death.”
Miller said the force will continue its partnership with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms(ATF)to identify firearms traffickers.
Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade said the force intends to strengthen the Firearms Unit, which currently has six members. Those officers are assisted by special operations units like the Select Enforcement Team(SET)and Operation Rapid Strike.
Greenslade has said in the past that an autonomous firearms unit was a good idea. The Firearms Unit existed as an independent body from 1992 until 1999 when it was subsumed under the Central Detective Unit. The first Gun Court on Parliament Street also operated during this period.