Gun decision faces court challenge
A class action suit is expected to be filed in the High Court tomorrow against Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith.
The action is being brought by a number of sports-related shooting clubs on the island, including the Barbados Rifle and Pistol Federation Inc., the Barbados Shooting Council and the Barbados Rifle and Pistol Association.
They are going to court to seek a judicial review of the acting commissioner’s decision to impose restrictions and conditions on thefirearms licences of persons involved in the sport of shooting.
The many individual members and clubs are also providing additional fire power for two other members who have already filed and whose cases are down to be heard next Tuesday before Madame Justice Jacqueline Cornelius.
The grounds of the actions are generally similar.
As in the cases of Garth Patterson, who is seeking a judicial review of the police chief’s decision, and Bernard Chase, who wants an injunction, the litigants all claim that Griffith over-reached his powers by taking it upon himself to impose conditions and restrictions when Section 5 of the Firearms Act Cap 179 did not give him
Patterson, who is represented in this matter by Bartlett Morgan, is contending that the discretion granted to the commissioner under Section 5 was one to either grant, or to refuse to grant a firearm licence.
“Even if the Commissioner has the power to impose conditions on a firearm licence, which is denied, the fact is that no such restriction as to either use or amount of ammunition, had previously been imposed in respect of the firearmlicences issued to the applicant [Patterson] over the course of 12 years since the applicant’s application.
“Consequently, the proposed change is in breach of the applicant’s legitimate expectation that no such restrictions would be imposed,” the court document added.
Patterson is contending that the acting commissioner also decided to refuse to renew thelicence of sport shooters, and/or revoke those licences already issued, because they had formally objected to his initial action to impose restrictions andconditions.
“For all the reasons advanced above, the applicant says that the decision of thecommissioner to impose restrictions as to the use of the applicant’s firearm and to deny the applicant the right to possess ammunition, was ultra vires,unlawful and/or unreasonable and amounted to an abuse of power, and is null and void.”
“The applicant accordingly prays that this Honourable Court will so declare and grant the other, or further reliefs prayed for,” Patterson concluded in his suit.
President of the Barbados Rifle and Pistol Federation Inc. and the Barbados Shooting Council, Antonio “Boo” Rudder, said the directive issued by Acting Commissioner Griffithwould negatively impact sport shooting at every level.
“Full-Bore Rifle, Service Pistol, the Olympic Shooting Disciplines, International Practical Pistol and Clay Target Shooting will be decimated, if shooters are afraid and present no challenge to this directive that is manifestly unjust,” Rudder wrote in a letter to members.
Rudder said having examined this matter from many angles, he was not persuaded that its handling could pass a test of reasonableness.
“Citizens should not break the law and those tasked with its management should be similarly guided,” he contended.