A firearms law that passed through the Committee on Public Safety, Homeland Security and Justice on Monday would do little in terms of addressing the root of illegal weapons. Instead, it outlines a procedure already commonly used to transport weapons legally into the territory, several testifiers said.

“We’re not addressing the people bringing in firearms illegally,” said V.I. Police Commissioner Novelle Francis Jr. “We’re addressing the individuals legally bringing in firearms to the territory. We’re stopping short of addressing the illegal methods of bringing in firearms.”

Most of the other testifiers agreed.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Patrick Simeon Sprauve, said it was meant to provide added protection to those who are legally transporting their firearms.

But the proposed legislation — which helps gun-owners bring their licensed weapons to the Virgin Islands using federal gun dealers as intermediaries — already is a long-standing procedure followed under federal guidelines, said several of the people who testified before the committee.

Otto Brown, a federally licensed firearms dealer on St. Thomas, said the bill outlines what has already been set up by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

When a person wants to bring a firearm that is licensed in another state to the Virgin Islands, there are a number of steps they must follow. They must apply for a license with the V.I. Police Department, which issues a license and a purchase coupon, if the person is approved. The gun-owner must then fill out a federal form for approval by the ATF.

Source: Daniel Shea for Virgin Island Daily News.

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