Oct. 19, 2007 — Handguns of all shapes and sizes, Glocks, Smith and Wessons, an air-cooled Uzi semi-automatic pistol, shotguns, a beat-up AK-47and dozens more were laid out for inspection Thursday afternoon at Frederiksteds Wilbur Francis Police Command. Police were displaying the dozens of weapons that have been turned in on St. Croix and promoting their gun amnesty program.
During the amnesty, residents can turn in any unregistered firearm and ammunition without fines, prosecutions, repercussions or masses of paperwork. It began Oct. 2 and lasts a month, ending Nov. 2.
Weve gotten 62 guns in St. Croix so far and 61 or 62 on St. Thomas, Police Commissioner James McCall said. If we see progress like this, the department can extend the amnesty. It all comes down to community involvement.
McCall said many of the weapons are brought in by family members.
It prevents fire arms from being stolen and ending up on the street, he said. We do get a lot of widows in here, bringing in a box thats been sitting in the attic.
V.I. law does not allow residents to carry firearms. Allowances are made for retired officers and military personnel who have been honorably discharged from service. Store and business owners can also often be licensed.
Those who have a gun and want to keep it can also avoid some hassle and get right with the law by bringing it in and applying to register it as well.
Most people who want to own the gun apply when they turn it in, McCall said.
There have been 21 homicides this year on St. Thomas and 12 on St. Croix, St. Croix Police Chief Novelle Francis said. Not all are attributable to fire arms, but many are and so are many other serious crimes. This is one of a number of initiatives out there to rid our community of these firearms.
Francis said anyone with any concerns or worries about turning in a weapon can call any of the police substations and ask for more information.
You can turn in a weapon at any police station. To make it even easier, police will have a van from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Wednesday at Golden Rock Shopping Center and at Sion Farm Shopping Center Thursday and Friday. Vans will also be at Red Hook and Tutu Park on St. Thomas.
Upon receiving the gun, the bureau will check the firearm for involvement in a crime. If the firearm checks out OK, a person can apply for a license. If it was involved in a crime, the weapon is then confiscated with no penalty to the individual, provided that individual has not been involved in any criminal behavior.
There are several small registration fees totaling about $50 for applications, fingerprinting and a background check. For those not convicted of a felony or dishonorably discharged from the military, the process to issue the license should take one or two weeks.
Registered gun owners can stop by this month and get a free gun lock.
Call Karen Stout, supervisor of the St. Croix Firearms Bureau, at 712-6058 or at 712-6023 between 8:30 and 4 p.m. for more information.
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