Holders of licenced firearms are being urged to renew their licences or permits as they become due, or face being charged for having an illegal weapon in their possession. Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, issued the warning as he officially opened the Firearm Licencing Authority’s (FLA) Montego Bay Regional Office on Thursday (Nov. 15) at Bogue City Centre. He noted that the FLA “makes every effort, if they do not see the firearm holders come in when it (licence) is due, to send text messages to the numbers that are on file as reminders.But I want to give warning that if a few weeks go by and you have not responded, then it will not be the FLA that will be looking for you, it will be the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) members.” Meanwhile, the Minister said new measures are to be implemented to improve the effectiveness of the FLA in assisting crime fighting. Among these is the use of technology to capture the unique ballistic signatures on firearms. “One of the areas that they can really improve in assisting in the detection of crime, is in getting ballistic signatures for every legal firearm that is issued in Jamaica,” he said. “We have had cases of crimes where it’s alleged that the perpetrator used a licenced firearm and that licenced firearm disappears, and the case cannot be made because of the absence of the firearm, or it’s much more difficult. If we had the ballistic signatures of those firearms on record at the FLA tied to that particular suspect, then it would be an almost open and shut case,” he argued. The Minister said the opening of the FLA’s Montego Bay office is a demonstration of the Government commitment to bringing critical services to Jamaicans where they reside. He stated that as more persons seek firearm licences, the processes of the facility, including the turn-around time as well as accountability “all have to be at private sector standards because of the special responsibility that the custody of firearms require, and those who regulate the custody of firearms”. Mr. Bunting said the hope is that within two years or so, the office will become a centre of excellence for public sector management, not just in Jamaica, but within the wider Caribbean.