In light of the recent spate of gun violence, the Ministry of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs spearheaded an initiative entitled “Pause for a Cause”, which saw Barbadians being encouraged to stop for one minute to pray for peace on Friday February 1st, in response to the increasing gun-related activity.
Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, Cynthia Forde, whose Ministry has responsibility for Ecclesiastical Affairs, also sought support from local faith leaders to garner backing for three days of prayer and reflection from midday Friday, February 1st, through Sunday, February 3rd. The Minister explained that whilst persons were asked to pause at midday on Friday to pray, people were also encouraged during the weekend to attend any gathering for prayer and reflection. It has therefore been recognised that divine intervention is needed to get this country back on track.
Now some have argued that prayer alone cannot aid in curbing gun violence, but as a Christian nation, it is a good place to start. For those of us who are familiar with scripture, the Bible states in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land”.
That said, it is time that we come up with some hard core strategies to address gun violence and violence in general in this country. Yes, we have heard from Prime Minister Mia Mottley herself and other key government as well as law enforcement officials that it will no longer be business as usual where this matter is concerned, and we have even been promised some legislative reform. And it is agreed that we need to send a strong, stern message that this kind of Wild-West behaviour is not acceptable. In the words of the Prime Minister, “not bout here”.
It is high time that we find solutions to this madness, as too many males involved in gun crime are now joining the already overcrowded place that is Her Majesty Prisons Dodds, and there is the view held in society that there they will idly sit and twiddle their thumbs until they once again return to the streets to commit additional crimes.
While the Royal Barbados Police Force has been hard at work apprehending some of the criminals involved, the concern is that when gun violence gets out of control, innocent bystanders will be hurt. Indeed, we have on record here in Barbados a few unfortunate incidents as such. We also have to consider that our image at the regional and international level is being tarnished and with tourism as one of our main foreign exchange earners, we stand to suffer as a result.
The widespread availability of illegal guns is another issue that needs to be tackled head on. Apparently, we are hearing that some youngsters bent on committing crime can even rent a gun, as you would a movie nowadays. This is what it has come to here in Barbados. It is clear therefore that we need a crackdown on the illegal importation of guns into this country and we need it fast. We must get tough on gun violence and address all aspects of it and all aspects connected to it. So whether it is the importation of guns, the interlinked drug trade and the actual act of committing a gun-related offence, we need to see some tough action being meted out to arrest the situation. Bim is too precious to let it be overtaken by gun violence, so let us keep up the momentum on this one.