Defiance Of Jamaica’s Gun Laws A Gift Which Keeps On Giving…

Patrick Powell was found guilty in a Kingston crim­i­nal court of fail­ing to hand over his firearm to law enforce­ment offi­cers when he was ordered to do so by the police as the prime sus­pect in the mur­der of 17-year-0ld Kingston College stu­dent Khajeel Mais in 2011.
Mais was shot while trav­el­ing in a taxi in Havendale on July 1, 2011.

Patrick Powell was charged with the mur­der of the Kingston College stu­dent after ini­tial­ly flee­ing the Island and lat­er return­ing.
Since then Powell was tried for the mur­der and exon­ner­at­ed.

Under Jamaican law, Powell faces a max­i­mum of one year in prison or J$300’000, that’s the equiv­a­lent of US$2’500.
It seems to me that Patrick Powell who is iden­ti­fied as a busi­ness­man will not have any prob­lem decid­ing what course of action to take.
As ridicu­lous as the puni­tive ceil­ing on this offense is, the tri­al judge Vaughn Smith offered Powell that if he sur­ren­ders the firearm before his sen­tenc­ing on August 9, it would help in pos­si­bly low­er­ing his sen­tence for fail­ing to hand over his gun and ammu­ni­tion to the police for inspec­tion.

For those of you who are won­der­ing, how is it pos­si­ble that a sus­pect in a mur­der case, who is accused of using a reg­is­tered firearm in the com­mis­sion of that homi­cide, can refuse to hand over the weapon to police you are not alone.
That a tri­al judge could be hold­ing out car­rots to this offend­er as an induce­ment to turn the firearm in is an atroc­i­ty.

It is impor­tant that we con­sid­er the sequence of events and the respon­si­bil­i­ties each per­son have under the law.
Having a reg­is­tered firearm is a priv­i­lege, not a con­sti­tu­tion­al right in Jamaica. The firearms act has clear guide­lines which reg­is­tered own­ers must com­ply with in order to remain reg­is­tered.

The moment a firearm is no longer reg­is­tered, for what­ev­er rea­son, it becomes an ille­gal weapon.
The legal­i­ty by which the hold­er is allowed to have a reg­is­tered weapon is pred­i­cat­ed on the hold­er’s fideli­ty to the core stip­u­la­tions of the gov­ern­ing act.

The rules gov­ern­ing ille­gal firearms are also clear. According to the records, Patrick Powell has not report­ed the weapon stolen. He nev­er report­ed it lost. Yet from what we have learned it is no longer reg­is­tered.
This makes him guilty of hav­ing an ille­gal firearm.


Anyone who is a licensed hold­er of a firearm in Jamaica, who is accused of using such firearm in the com­mis­sion of a crime is bound by law to com­ply with the demand from law enforce­ment to hand over the weapon.
Now con­sid­er that Powell a licensed firearm hold­er who was accused of a homi­cide in which the firearm was alleged to be the weapon used, bla­tant­ly thumbs his nose at the sys­tem and refus­es to hand over the weapon to police on demand.
As a result of his bla­tant and unbowed defi­ance, he walked out of a Kingston court­room a free man while the fam­i­ly of Khajeel Mais is left to won­der where is the jus­tice for them.

Why would any legal firearm user turn over his/​her weapon giv­en sim­i­lar cir­cum­stances in the future?
I ask these ques­tions because it is impor­tant that these ques­tions get asked of the leg­is­la­tors>
“What are you doing why gap­ing holes like these are not plugged? “Why are there no laws which make the refusal to turn the weapon over com­men­su­rate with the penal­ty which would have been met­ed out to a per­son con­vict­ed of mur­der?

As crime con­tin­ues to sky­rock­et on the Island there is no short­age of ideas on what must be done to address this gal­lop­ing homi­cide rate.
Among the ques­tions asked is, why is the mur­der rate so high and the incar­cer­a­tion rate so low?
The answer to those ques­tions may be found in these gap­ing cause­ways in the laws which give poten­tial offend­ers like Patrick Powell and oth­ers much lever­age to break the most seri­ous laws know­ing there would be pre­cious lit­tle if any con­se­quences.