Bermuda’s strict gun laws are set to be temporarily relaxed to allow shooting competitions at July’s international Island Games.

Minister for National Security Michael Dunkley said: “An amendment bill has been tabled which deals with putting everything in place to allow the Island Games to take place and have the shooting competitions take place.”

Mr Dunkley added that he was also in talks over firearms legislation with the island’s three gun clubs, who are seeking some changes to the rules to make it easier to promote the sport.

He said: “That is set against a backdrop that Government has given a commitment to make Bermuda safe again and deal with gangs, guns and drugs.

“We are talking about a hobby and they don’t necessarily see the the crime side or the risk side.

“We have to approach the use of firearms which, in other circumstances would be illegal, very carefully.”

Mr Dunkley added that one change gun clubs would like to see was a lowering of the age to use firearms in a legal setting from 18 to 16, while streamlining licensing fees and rules on transport and storage were also areas gun clubs wanted to look at.

But he said: “Lowering the age, I don’t think we want to go below 18. They want to continue to grow their sport and we are not averse to sitting down and having a conversation with them about it.

“But we want to make sure if there are any weak areas in the policy or legislation, we can shore it up.

“Bermuda is one of the few places where there are very tight regulations. People expect us to have different rules from the US or Canada, for example.”

Mr Dunkley added that other legislation on the table included an amendment to prisons legislation, introducing tougher penalties for prisoners or visitors caught with contraband, including cell phones.

He said: “The amendment is specifically aimed at cell phones — while there is reference to that type of article in the existing legislation, we think it’s appropriate to spell it out and have tougher sentencing.

“To have a cell phone in the hands of someone in Westgate allows them to support and carry on some of the behaviour that got them there in the first place.

“We will do everything we can to stamp that out. This is strongly supported by the Commissioner of Corrections and the Prison Officers’ Association and the Ministry took very quick steps to make it happen.”

He added that, in addition, security measures in and around prisons would also be reviewed “to make sure they are up to snuff as well”.

Mr Dunkley said that new legislation designed to make it easier to use cash and property seized under proceeds of crime legislation for community work had also been tabled. n