EDITORIAL: Time to tackle gun violence

A top criminologist in Barbados is on record as stating that gun violence in Barbados is reaching epidemic proportions and indeed is spiralling out of control. Quite regularly, we are hearing of a gun related incident, which more often than not results in someone being killed or seriously injured.

While some in society have their own theories about the gun violence that now plagues us and there are many debates about what is fuelling it, what is clear is that we can no longer turn a blind eye to it. What we need to concentrate on at present, is sending a strong, stern message, that this kind of Wild West behaviour is not acceptable.

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. Some are of the view that there is nothing in place at the moment, which serves to seriously deter gun toting criminals from committing such violent crimes. Perhaps those in the judicial arena may need to put their heads together and come up with some recommendations, which may prove useful. Perhaps it is time to review our laws and address any loop holes that need to be fixed.

While the Royal Barbados Police Force has been hard at work apprehending some of the criminals involved, the concern has been that when gun violence gets out of control, innocent bystanders will be hurt. Persons going about their daily business, may be subject to a stray bullet. Indeed, we have on record here in Barbados, a few such unfortunate incidents. We also have to consider that our image at the regional and international level is being tarnished. Indeed, we used to be known as a safe place in which to live and do business, but slowly and surely, this is all changing before our eyes.

  Now the widespread availability of illegal guns is another problem we have to tackle 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 Bim. We need a crackdown on the illegal importation of guns into this country and we need it fast. The guns are getting into the country somehow, since, as far as we are aware, we do not manufacture them here. It is time we seriously examine the possible entry ways and get a handle on this issue. It will not be easy, but we can all agree that more needs to be done to stop youngsters from easily accessing guns, rented or otherwise.

In the interest of public safety, at least, something has to be done to address this troubling issue and the time to address it is now. We need to 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.

Barbados Advocate

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