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#370000 - 03/09/10 09:43 AM Gun Laws in Belize.
Tracker Offline
Reporter Editorial
Harry Lawrence

Maybe it’s time for us Belizeans to take another look at Belize’s gun law.
The law as it stands today, does not deny Belizeans the right to carry a gun. It simply says that everyone who wants to carry a gun must first obtain a license from the Commissioner of Police.
Such licenses, signed by the Commissioner, are issued regularly, and have to be renewed once every year. But not everybody who applies for a license obtains one. In practice the Commissioner is selective about who gets a gun license. An applicant has to produce convincing reasons to show why he/she needs to have a gun.
This is distinctly different from the situation in the United States. There the Constitution gives to citizen the right to bear arms. Individual States in the Union qualify this constitutional right with various regulations which make it difficult for certain people to exercise that right.
In Belize there is no constitutinal right that anybody can claim to carry a gun. Instead of having a right, citizens have only state permission, and that permission is regulated, somewhat severely, by the Commissioner of Police.
Gun advocates argue that if more people had guns to defend themselves, gun-toting outlaws would have to be more careful.They would not be so brazen in their use of guns.
But the reverse is also true. If there were more guns in the city - legal guns mind you, there would be more opportunities for outlaws to get to them.
While it is true to say that a man or a woman with a gun can do more to defend himself/herself, it has been shown that people with guns also become targets for the simple reason that they have something that the outlaws want. They attract outlaws who are prepared to take some risks to get the gun. Security guards are favourite targets because they are known to carry guns.
If everybody were free to obtain a gun, what proportion of the adult population would invest money to buy a gun -- 20 percent, 30 percent, 50 percent?
Bearing in mind that guns are expensive, and dangerous, and that not everybody will want to have one, the protection factor that guns offer drops off significantly if a substantial proportion of the population decides not to arm itself.
Regardless of how many people buy guns, there will always be many who remain unarmed - women, the elderly, people who can find better use for their money, and even some who abhor guns. These are vulnerable to gun attacks from armed predators.
The probability is that gun-related accidents will become more frequent as more guns come into circulation.
Illegal guns have no trouble finding their way into Belize. As we have seen from recent press reports, they come with household items sent in barrels by Belizeans in the United States. Guns also come to Belize from across the border - mostly from Guatemala. Criminals who want to rent a gun can now do so. Such guns, complete with a couple of bullets, cost $100 a night!
Law enforceement, desperate to get the illegal guns off the street, encounter a lot of fustration. It doesn’t seem to matter how many guns they seize; these are quickly replaced. Criminals welcome the chance to trade in their old guns for cash because that allows them to upgrade their arsenal with newer, better weapons.
For these and other reasons one has to weigh carefully the argument in favour of more legal guns. Will they make the community safer? Or will they simply make it easier for outlaws to get to them?
Before we spend too much time on the gun arguments, perhaps we should give some of our attention to non-lethal defensive personal devices. These include stun-guns, pepper spray, and tasers.
The development of stun-guns and tasers have made great strides in recent years. They can be disguised to look like something else and are quite effective in stopping even the most burly and determined criminal. Most stun guns can be bought for under US$50. The new tasers for civilians use cost more, but they can hit target at 15 feet.
We believe law enforcement authorities should start to encourage civilians to switch to non-lethal defensive weapons instead of guns.
They’re safer. They’re cheaper, and in close quarters they’re just as effective. One more advantage: the victim does not need the services of a doctor or surgeon.
He can recover on his own -- without being an expense of the hospital services.
Reporter

_________________________
If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns.
A bullet fired,cannot be called back.
A.C.G.C.

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#370001 - 03/09/10 09:43 AM Re: Gun Laws in Belize. [Re: Tracker]
Tracker Offline
While I agree on strict gun laws, there is a case for people to own a gun, people who live in a remote area where police cannot reach or take a long time to respond and people who have to deal with or handle large amounts of cash. In the United Kingdom all handguns were banned, since that time gun crime has increased 60%, and now the police have to patrol the streets armed. Stun guns can work, but what if there is more than one assailant, which is often the case.
The Belize public must be allowed to defend themselves against an ever increasing threat from gun carrying criminals who show little respect for life.
_________________________
If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns.
A bullet fired,cannot be called back.
A.C.G.C.

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#371115 - 03/21/10 01:45 AM Re: Gun Laws in Belize. [Re: Tracker]
Bounty101 Offline
I am looking at moving my family with my mother and father down to the Belize area....one of the main concerns that I have is about the gun laws. From what I read above it sounds like a CCW/CPL or a permit to carry is damn near impossible to obtain. Am I able to bring my firearms to Belize from MI, USA, and what are the laws behind legally owning them in your home or business?

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#371119 - 03/21/10 07:15 AM Re: Gun Laws in Belize. [Re: Bounty101]
catdance62 Offline

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#371125 - 03/21/10 10:23 AM Re: Gun Laws in Belize. [Re: catdance62]
elbert Offline
Harry,
Its rare that I disagree with you.
The law hasn't changed in ten years and I agree it might be time to change the law and put in some restrictions such as not permitted if the person hasn't sufficient reason or a criminal record.
The law as it is leaves a lot of the decision to permit for the police issuing. My experiences have been that they interview and I had to show evidence of training and reason for owning a firearm.
However , in recent years I have seen corruption in the system and permits are going, like so many other permits in Belize, to the person paying cash under the counter to someone in government.
Changing the law doesn't seem to me to be the solution. Cleaning up the corruption IMHO would solve the problem.
_________________________
The Dive Shops Daily Blog
http://scubalessonsbelize.blogspot.com/

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#371126 - 03/21/10 10:30 AM Re: Gun Laws in Belize. [Re: catdance62]
SimonB Offline
There were significant chnages made to the guns laws over the last few years. The laws above were effective in 2000. Not sure where you can find the new laws.

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#371133 - 03/21/10 11:22 AM Re: Gun Laws in Belize. [Re: SimonB]
elbert Offline
I think the laws are and have been the same for 10 years and the above link is correct. Whats changed is ,two things,the discretion of the administrator and a new channel of acquisition through someone in the system dispersing them on the side.
_________________________
The Dive Shops Daily Blog
http://scubalessonsbelize.blogspot.com/

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#371144 - 03/21/10 12:22 PM Re: Gun Laws in Belize. [Re: elbert]
SimonB Offline
There have been amendments over the years, reading the laws posted above, for instance a .44 pistol was legal, now it's a 9mm or .32 max.

Laws were changed regarding violations as noted in the article below from Amandala dated August 2009. As the new law stands you cannot get bail at the magistrate’s level and go directly to jail. How long you stay there depends on the skills of your lawyer and the availability of the Supreme Court to hear your application for bail.

"An entire Belize City family, the Canto family, ran afoul of the strict amendment to the Firearms Act, and a father and his son are behind bars, and the man’s wife almost ended there, too, if it were not for a medical condition that caused the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to withdraw the two charges against her.

The gun laws of Belize have gone through various amendments over the years as gun crimes in Belize have been escalating at a frightening pace. Legislators have taken a much more serious attitude towards the proliferation of handguns and the most recent amendment to the Firearms Act has even taken away the jurisdiction of granting bail at the magistrate’s court level.

Anyone found with a firearm or ammunition is automatically remanded to prison for three months, unless they apply for a bail petition before the Supreme Court through an attorney."

There has been at least one case where an unlicensed gun has been found in a location with multiple persons present. Under the new law all present get the automatic 3 month jail term unless someone cops to the possession.

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#371151 - 03/21/10 12:38 PM Re: Gun Laws in Belize. [Re: SimonB]
bywarren Offline
The law as written can be confusing in many ways. An example is under the definition of restricted ammunition, it exempts pellets as used in pellet guns. But under the definition of firearms, pellet guns would require a license. It is my understanding the Shark's sells pellet guns and many believe they are legal to own without a license. But the way I read the law they would be illegal.


Edited by bywarren (03/21/10 12:44 PM)

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#371153 - 03/21/10 12:49 PM Re: Gun Laws in Belize. [Re: bywarren]
SimonB Offline
The same works for Pepper Spray, under the 2000 laws it would be covered under the aerosol noxious substances but they are still sold. I think the new amendments covered pellet guns, tazers, etc. as well. Wish I could find a copy.

Either way, if you have questions about gun laws it's best to contact the people that administer them.

Here is the page for the license application. http://www.belize.gov.bz/ct.asp?xItem=1666&ctNode=486&mp=27

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