That’s how a director of the Barbados Rifle and Pistol Federation, Ronald Sargeant, has described Government’s imposition of permit fees for equipment used in the sport of shooting.
Sargeant, who is also Barbados’ pistol captain, said his sport had become unfortunately caught in Government’s desperate attempt to raise money. He explained that shooting in Barbados was recognized by the National Sports Council and the Barbados Olympic Association but yet another arm of the same government seemed to be targeting the sport as a revenue-earning source.
“It baffles me why cricketers and footballers don’t pay to export or import bats and balls but our equipment is attracting these unreasonable fees,” he stated, adding that gun crimes in the country seemed to have distorted the thinking and reasoning of those making policy in Barbados.
Sargeant said he had spoken to a number of overseas fullbore shooters who were recently in Barbados for a competition, and similar to local shooters, they found it ridiculous that sportsmen were now being asked to pay the Government for the privilege of representing their country in sporting activity.
“Just recently a tri-nation competition which has been held for more than 50 years in the region was cancelled due to the imposition of these fees by the government of Barbados. The scenario was that in order for the shooters from Martinique to get to Trinidad for the competition they had to transit through the Grantley Adams International Airport.
“Because of this they were being asked to pay import/export permit fees for both legs of their journey –– $150 per firearm to T&T and $150 return. In contrast to this persons transiting through the USA don’t even need to apply to the ATF for the Form 6NIA which is required to enter the USA with a firearm. This disgusted the participants who eventually decided not to travel for the competition which was a part of the regional shooting calendar for more than 50 years,” he said.
Sargeant queried why only licensed sport shooters in Barbados were being targeted.
“The sport of shooting though not as popular as cricket and football has contributed to the economy of Barbados through tourism over the years. Regional and international shooters have always visited to compete in Barbados and this meant hotels, restaurants, taximen and by extension the economy benefited positively. So i would ask if by targeting shooting, is the Government shooting itself in the foot?”
The sports shooter explained that some persons were saying that Government’s unreasonable fees were being levied as a deterrent to persons getting involved in the sport. He said some believed that targeting the sport was also due to the recent upsurge in gun-related crimes in Barbados.
“As a rational-thinking individual, I fail to believe that, as the increase in gun crimes has not seen any licensed holders of firearms being brought before the court or charged for any of these offences,” he noted.
Sargeant added: “My team is hoping to travel later this year again to represent our country in a sporting event in Puerto Rico which we have attended in different countries of the region for more than 20 years. The difference is that this year our team of nine shooters will be asked to pay $3,750 for a export/import permit to take our sporting equipment out of the country.
“It baffles me why cricketers and footballers don’t pay to export/import bats and balls but our equipment is attracting these unreasonable fees. I sometimes wonder if the Ministry of Sports and Culture knows that our sport is under threat or if the main focus of this ministry is the next money-making cultural affair as Crop Over 2015 approaches.”
Sargeant said that in almost all other countries of the region and beyond the authorities were grappling with the increase in crimes where firearms were used by the perpetrators. He added that fact in no way affected the support being given to the sports persons who used firearms in the execution of their chosen sport.
“We are asking that we be accorded the same privileges as all the other sporting disciplines in Barbados to practise our sport with the support of the Government and the removal of fees which can be a hinderance for those involved in our sport,” Sargeant pleaded.