The Senate approved today, Monday, the draft of the new Weapons Law after accepting the amendments proposed by the governor Wanda Vázquez Garced that conditioned the signature of the measure once it is validated by both legislative bodies and arrives at La Fortaleza.
“We have before us a vanguard project and a project that the people of Puerto Rico are waiting for. The most vulnerable are waiting for this project, ”argued the author of the measure, the senator Nelson Cruz, who was applauded from the stands.
"We are creating legislation for the good … this law has more claws in terms of what crimes and penalties are, which does not have current legislation," said the senator.
The measure was approved with 15 votes in favor and six against. Penis senators Luis Daniel Muñiz and Larry Seilhamer abstained. Meanwhile, minorities voted against the measure.
At the end of the last ordinary session, in June, the Legislature approved the conference report of the piece, but the chambers asked for the return measure to reconsider it and integrate the changes proposed by the governor.
One of the amendments allows the Police to access the Criminal Justice Information Service (CJIS). That data bank joins others to whom the Uniformed will have access to obtain information on applicants for weapons licenses.
The defenders of the project argue that, with access to those platforms, there are enough filters that allow the police to verify the background of an applicant. Likewise, the measure grants 45 days to process an application and 30 days since January 2021, which contrasts with the current 120 days.
“The rigors to which the person requesting this license is submitted are greater, are deep and offer sufficient guarantees to ensure the government and the people of Puerto Rico that firearms are being issued to persons suitable for carrying them. Posing that this aspect of the portation is being relaxed is not correct. Bureaucracy, obstacles, barriers are being removed so that decent and honest people can carry a firearm, ”said the president of the Senate, Thomas Rivera Schatz.
It is estimated that in Puerto Rico there are about 85,000 legally armed people.
The measure also consolidates, on a license, the target shooting and bearer permits. In addition, it reduces the costs to request the license to $ 200 and eliminates the process of the judicial hearing when requesting the permit of bearer.
The Fortress also insisted on reversing the version of the project approved last session to include the penalties contained in the current Weapons Law, described by the Society for Legal Assistance as the most punitive law in the world. That proposal was also accepted by the Senate.
Cruz indicated that the agreement was to include in article 6.1 language that states that “all imprisonment sentences imposed under this Law shall be considered for parole by the Board of Freedom on Speech when serving 75% of the term of imprisonment tax".
Given these “punitive” amendments included, the independent senator José Vargas Vidot believes that they turn their backs on the constitutional mandate of rehabilitation. “What is the mania of continuing to insist on the punitive? What is the mania of continuing to choke on the already destroyed throat of this town at the idea that greater punishments ensure us more security? It has not worked anywhere and will never work, ”said the legislator.
“This project, after being a good project, is being amended so that this humanization is aborted,” added Vargas Vidot.
Cruz also explained that the measure includes language so that the police can use firearms. "There is no protocol for the Puerto Rico Police to address this issue," he said, adding that the definition of revolver and the concept of "semi-automatic" weapons are also "clarified."
The representative of the Popular Democratic Party (PPD), Cyril Pulled, questioned the approval of the measure at a time when "in the United States the current is to avoid the acquisition of firearms that have caused, many of them legally acquired, the mansalva murder in schools, in shops, in discos and in bars ”.
He also questioned that the argument to approve the measure is that citizens will now have the opportunity to defend themselves against the shortage of police on the street. "I am well aware that this law, beyond allowing the person to have firearms, will possibly cause … an increase in murders between couples."
"Where there are weapons in the home, the possibility of deaths caused precisely by gender-based violence increases," he added.