SVG opens its first shooting range
June 28, 2011

SVG opens its first shooting range

After a slight delay, this country’s first shooting range was opened last Thursday, June 23, at Arnos Vale.{{more}}

The EC$1.3 million facility is being seen as an enhancement of the training of both security personnel and private firearm holders on the proper use and handling of a firearm.

Initial talks into the construction of such a facility began under the then Commissioner of Police William Harry, this according to Ken Minors, contractor.

Work finally commenced in October 2008, and after numerous changes and setbacks, the facility is now open.

Minors reminisced about the days when persons utilized the makeshift shooting range, which was located in the yard which now houses the High Court and Parliament building.

“Now that the project is completed, we have a much improved facility than we used to have,” he said.

Major Horace Kirton, of the Regional Security System’s (RSS) Central Liaison Office (CLO) in Barbados lauded the government and the Commissioner of Police for the initiative of establishing a shooting range in St. Vincent.

He explained that this meant that this country has now joined Barbados as the only two RSS member states with such a facility and meant that there was another resource option for conducting training.

Major Kirton added that since the formation of the RSS back in 1982, the objective has always been to enhance the shooting skills of the officers.

He blamed the lack of facilities as the reason for these limitations, but stressed the importance of the region’s RSS officers to be adequately trained in the use of a firearm.

And despite the public’s perception that the Special Services Unit (SSU) officers were trained to kill, Kirton refuted this, saying that their officers were taught how be responsible.

Intense media scrutiny also means that Police officers need to be adequately trained and display a level of competence, he added.

Hence the establishment of the facility, Keith Miller, Commissioner of Police said.

“A firearm is a dangerous weapon,” he contended.

Miller further noted that before putting a firearm in the hands of any security personnel or private citizen, certain protocols needed to be put in place to ensure its proper use.

Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, in his presentation, referred to the initiatives taken by his administration to enhance gun safety and to deal with the issue of illegal firearms.

According to Gonsalves, while the previous administration had dealt with the legal aspect of the gun laws, it was not enough, which led to a decision by his government to make the penalty stiffer for persons committing gun-related crimes.

So too, the prime minister said, the previous system where law-abiding citizens were made to apply for a license to own a firearm was outdated, which again prompted the government to set up a committee to oversee the granting of a license.

To complement all these measures, a facility was then required to ensure that persons got the sufficient training and practice in the use of a firearm, Gonsalves explained.

The facility will be open to security personnel only, between the hours of 8 am and 4 pm Mondays to Fridays, and opened to members of the National Firearm Association from 4:30 p.m and weekends. (DD)