Philipsburg – On Friday, September 30, 2022, the new Weapon Policy of the Ministry of Justice was published in the National Gazette. The Honorable Minister of Justice, Anna E. Richardson initiated the establishment of a new weapon policy when it became apparent that some aspects of the Weapon Policy of 2016 needed to be updated or further developed. Relevant stakeholders within the Justice chain such as Korps Politie van Sint Maarten (KPSM), the Public Prosecutor’s Office, and the Customs Department were included in the drafting process of the new policy.
In the same manner that a person requires a driver’s license to operate a vehicle, Minister Richardson finds it necessary for a gun holder to obtain a weapon license to confirm that he or she can safely operate a weapon. Thereafter, the license holder can apply for a weapon permit for the specific weapon desired. This is another distinctive added feature to the Weapon Policy of 2022.
In the policy, the application process and requirements for the different types of permits are determined in a detailed manner. For example, the policy includes separate chapters regarding a firearm permit for an individual, a weapon permit for security companies and security detail, a weapon permit for a shooting club, a weapon permit to operate as a weapon dealer and a permit for a weapon other than a firearm (speargun, crossbow, air gun, etc). In addition, the policy describes the obligations of a weapon license holder. Furthermore, insight is provided into the new fees linked to the application process for a weapon license. These new fees will be applicable when the relevant National Decree containing General Measures (Lbham) is finalized.
By setting and enforcing strict rules for legal weapon possession, the Ministry of Justice intends to avoid legal weapons ending up in the illegal circuit. For example, by means of re-establishing strict storing requirements for firearms and ammunition as well as conducting regular controls to enforce these policy rules. In addition, the intensified screening procedure for all types of weapon permits but also the pre-requisite of training in the proper handling of a firearm, are essential in ensuring a responsible manner of regulating the legal weapons in our society and by extension minimalizing the risk for the community. Thirdly, a proper and constantly updated registration of weapons, ammunition, and permits will provide the necessary clarity within the Law Enforcement chain about (non) permit holders, the validity of a permit, the conditions of a permit, and the legality or illegality of possessed weapons.
The Ministry of Justice is of the position that legal gun possession should only be possible after requiring a state-issued permit. In order to obtain such, the applicant must have an objectively determined reasonable interest to possess a weapon. In addition, an applicant will be assessed to establish that there is no fear that the applicant will misuse the weapon or the weapon permit.
Therefore, an applicant will undergo interviews, background checks, medical and psychological evaluations and, gun and safety training. Only persons who pass all the required stages of the application procedure, thus showing to be responsible citizens, will be considered for granting a gun permit. By introducing those safeguards, improper use or misuse of licensed weapons will be prevented as best as possible.
To guard this procedure, the Minister of Justice will be advised by a new Weapon Committee, consisting of members of multidisciplinary expertise: a high-ranked police officer, a legal expert of the Department of Judicial Affairs, and an independent (forensic) psychologist.
To apply for a weapon permit, a filled-out application form in which the reasonable interest to obtain a weapon permit, as well as relevant documentation such as a declaration of conduct, registration form of the Civil Registry, a medical declaration and a declaration of a psychologist, must be submitted.
It is illegal and a serious crime to have a weapon without authorization. Combating the issue of illegal weapons and gun violence is a top priority for Minister Richardson. This requires a twofold approach: strict criminal law enforcement of illegal weapon possession by the KPSM and the Public Prosecutor on the one hand, and the existence of a thorough policy of legal weapon possession on the other hand.
All interested persons are requested to complete a new application to be processed under the 2022 policy. The application form as well as the complete policy document can be found on the website of the Ministry of Justice. Click Here