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Tuesday, February 7, 2023


Nov. 14, 2001 – The consensus at Wednesday's Senate Government Operations Committee meeting was that a retooled gun control act will be a deterrent to violent crime in the territory.
Gov. Charles W. Turnbull vetoed Sen. Emmett Hansen II's Gun Control Act of 2001 in August, citing concerns about provisions for asset forfeiture. The bill has now been amended and sent back to the Government Operations Committee — which Hansen now chairs.
At the hearing Wednesday on St. Croix, a host of top law-enforcement officials in the territory said they supported the bill.
Further, Attorney General Iver Stridiron said he was sure Turnbull would sign the legislation the second time around. "We believe the bill as it is now amended is in the right direction," Stridiron said. "Gov. Turnbull, I'm certain, will be more than happy to sign this into law."
Police Commissioner Franz Christian recommended that penalties for crimes committed with an unregistered weapon be increased from what is proposed in the bill. "I believe the increase in prison terms will be a deterrent," he said.
Hansen made a point of stating that while the first version of his bill was making the rounds, crimes involving firearms decreased.
He said there were nine gun-related crimes reported in January, eight in February, seven in March and five in April. But then the number soared to 25 in May, he said, spurring his original bill. In June, the Justice Department announced Project Exile, a threat and a promise to send those convicted of gun-related crimes off-island for incarceration, and the number of gun crimes dropped to 14.
In July, when the Senate passed his bill, Hansen said, seven gun crimes were reported. But, he added, in August, when Turnbull vetoed the bill, the number jumped to 24. Since then, he said, there have been 13 reported in September, 11 in October and six so far in November.
Stridiron said parents who have children who are "prone to the life of crime" should make sure they know about the tougher penalties in the proposed new law, because he won't be swayed by pleas for mercy. "Any person convicted under this new law, the families ought not come to me," he said.
The bill was approved by committee members Hansen, Sens. Donald "Ducks" Cole, Carlton Dowe, and Roosevelt David. Absent were committee member Sens. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, Adelbert Bryan and Norma Pickard-Samuel. The bill will next be heard in the Rules Committee.

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