Guamanians discuss right to carry concealed weapons - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Guamanians discuss right to carry concealed weapons

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - The right to bear arms may be spelled out in the U.S. Constitution, but the right to carry a concealed weapon may not be as clear.

Residents weigh in on legislation that makes concealed firearms licenses more accessible to the island's general public.

For Stanley Wilson, a member of the Guam Sports Shooting Federation, the National Rifle Association and the Guam Gun Owners Association, local laws relative to carrying a concealed weapon just aren't cutting it.

"First it places the decision in the hands of a single person who has the possibility to issue permits to individuals who may not have sufficient training. Or may have enough political influence to have the chief of police, who is a political appointee, to issue permits simply because of their political power," he said. "It kind of puts the chief in a bad position - the current system. It's his decision and he has poor guidelines now."

Bill 296 would change language for concealed firearms licensing from "may" to shall." That means concealed firearm licenses shall be issued to an applicant who meets the various specifications. Currently the Guam Police Department chief of police approves or denies an application for such a license and only those who have a good enough reason to own a concealed firearms license may be permitted.

Wilson's words in support of the changes echoed as other firearms enthusiasts also raised concerns for the rise in crime on island in the last 18 months.

Concerned resident Gary Hickenbottom said, "The police cannot protect you. You cannot even on a small island expect to be caught in a situation and yell for help and have a policeman get there before you're knocked down, or kicked, or stabbed." And Robert Gibbons added, "The police cannot be everywhere. I'm not trying to be a cop. I don't want to be a vigilante but I do want to be able to protect myself."

Chief of Police Fred Bordallo as well as Chief Deputy Attorney General Phil Tydingco also testified in favor of the measure on the condition that certain amendments are made. Other concerns raised included fees, training, background checks, and the ability for business owners to prohibit concealed firearms on their premises.

The committee will continue to receive written testimony on Bill 296 for the next ten days.

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