Davis says uphill battle on US gun makers case


Tribune Staff Reporter


PRIME Minister Philip “Brave” Davis said although it will be difficult for Mexico to win a case seeking to hold US gun traffickers accountable for the spread of guns in the region, The Bahamas needed to support the action to send a strong message to US lawmakers.

He spoke during a press conference at police headquarters yesterday where Commissioner Clayton Fernander revealed that 90 per cent of weapons seized in The Bahamas have been traced to the United States, the highest rate in the region.

“We are sending a strong message that we will not tolerate the unchecked flow of illegal firearms into our nations and that we expect the international community, including gun manufacturers, to respect and support our efforts to protect our citizens,” Mr Davis said.

Mexico is appealing its case against US gun manufacturers after a US District Court dismissed their matter in September, concluding that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act barred such lawsuits. The Bahamas is among several regional countries that have joined the case as amicus curiae, or “friends of the court”.

 “I acknowledge,” Mr Davis said, “that the case will not be easily won … But we think that by joining our voices together, it will attract the attention of the lawmakers in the United States to demonstrate how serious we are about this concern and it highlights to them our major concerns and it could move a lobby to see how these laws could change to make gun manufacturers more responsible.”

 Gun rights are a divisive issue in US politics. Mr Davis was careful to say The Bahamas is not expressing a view on the right of US residents to bear arms.

 “This is not an action against the United States,” he said. “Of course, I would have said directly to the US authorities on any number of occasions, we are not concerned about their interpretation of the right to bear arms, which is their constitutional right, and we’re not interfering or in any way joining in that discussion or debate about what that means. But what we are (urging) in our view is that the right to bear arms cannot mean a right to traffic in arms to the extent that it has the consequences that it is having in our jurisdictions.”

 Mr Davis said since raising the issue last year, the US Embassy in Nassau has informed him that US lawmakers have taken steps to address the problem.

 He said a law was passed in the United States to curtail the sale of guns “to what they call straw purchasers”.

 He added: “We’re now examining that legislation … it is intended to address that issue. We’re just going to see how effective that will be. In the meantime, we also would wish to see that some effective laws are enforced in the United States where we are able to identify a trafficker. Yes, the trafficker may have the right to bear arms in the United States (but) the commissioner would be able to tell you we’ve been able to trace individuals buying up to 40 or 30 weapons within a space of two, three months and one of those weapons has found its way being used here for several offences.

 “Once that information is discovered and the name of the purchaser is put into their databank, they could find out who has bought all these weapons. We think in those instances, some steps should be made to have the person account not only for the weapon that came into The Bahamas, but for the weapons they acquired to determine where they are. And if they’re not in possession of those weapons, certain inferences should be drawn from that fact.”

 Meanwhile, Commissioner Fernander said 400 weapons were confiscated in 2022, including pistols, rifles and shotguns. He said 74 weapons have been seized so far this year.

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