Almost daily, we are bombarded with news reports about gun violence, which either results in a fatality or serious injury to one or more persons. As such, it is time we place this issue of gun violence on the front burner.
On the legal side of things, we in Barbados need to work on our laws to ensure that a message is sent, that engaging in firearm related crime is a very serious matter. We must also consider those who are bystanders or witnesses to gun violence. Indeed, this is also a serious matter that needs to be addressed, as we are not sure how many children and youth have witnessed such and what the effects will be for them, as they progress in life. We also have a social media culture that suggests it is alright to share graphic videos of incidents that have occurred and we may seriously need to consider what the repercussions are, for some who watch these graphic scenes.
Perhaps what we need now more than ever, is a national consultation to tackle the issue of gun violence and its related effects.
That said, it is also time that parents have a firm talk with their children and try to get help for those they can clearly see are going down the wrong path. It is no use burying your head in the sand and pretending that you cannot see that someone you helped to raise, is heading for trouble. Perhaps relatives can band together and make an intervention early on, rather than waiting until the horse bolts from the stable, to try to address the matter. We also need more citizens to work with Crime Stoppers to help to arrest gun violence in Barbados, by giving up critical information on those who actually commit gun violence and by extension those who may be known to bring in the guns as well. We have not yet heard definitively how they are entering our country, but we know they are making their way to our shores somehow and a greater effort must be made to arrest this issue of the importation of guns into Barbados. Those who are responsible must feel the full extent of the law.
Now we acknowledge that it is not only in Barbados, that crime and violence is reaching epidemic proportions. According to a representative at the CARICOM Secretariat, “The World Health Organisation has indicated that the levels of Crime and Violence in Latin America and the Caribbean have reached epidemic proportions”. The representative went on to point out that a recent 2017 publication by the IDB, seeks to unpack in greater detail, the impact and costs of various aspects of crime. In doing so, it also emphasises the importance of robust impact evaluations of crime prevention and crime control policies and this is particularly important given the continually changing nature of crime and violence in our region. Given the above, a major thrust of the 10th EDF CARIFORUM Crime and Security Co-operation Programme launched earlier this year in Barbados, sought to address multiple facets of the issues and challenges identified as driving the ‘crime epidemic’ in the region.
Whilst we have some effort at the regional level, we must see government, law enforcement officials, the judiciary and other stakeholders working in a more active manner, to address crime in Barbados on a whole, but more urgently, the matter of gun violence and firearm related crime.
Indeed, Barbados must be a safe place in which to live and do business and visitors to the island must also feel safe and secure, while vacationing here. Therefore, it is high time we tackle our safety and security issues head on, so that we indeed preserve what is left of our little paradise.