Guns and bullets once again


Saturday, February 23, 2013

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AS the Government chooses austerity instead of stimulus, not a mix of the two, the economy will become very slow, and employment opportunities will disappear. Yet, we are required to maintain law and order in what will become, in some towns and villages, almost abject poverty.

It does not have to become as described. We are not in a war zone, or in an area of armed conflict. In spite of this, three to four people, man, women, or child will die by armed violence every day, yet we are not officially at war or in a conflict with any other country.

Crime statistics further show the following:

(1) These 2008 figures are higher than those in Colombia, and South Africa, and place us at the top of countries with a crime problem.

(2) Young males are among the highest group of perpetrators and victims. Perhaps what we need to do is organise some type of conscription, which would take the place of poor education and training. This would place many young persons in military or emergency services, but they would not turn to crime. I would suggest naval resources as the best area of service that could accommodate personnel, training and cost. Many countries in the world, including Germany and France have mandatory conscription, and this has created more orderly societies. As an island we need a conspicuous naval presence.

(3) If we could reduce to 8 per 100,000 crime occurrences (homicides), our economic annual growth will exceed 5.4%. Our present level is 50 per 100,000 of the population.

(4) At this time in our market, guns and weapons are easily accessible. Better control of armaments in Jamaica is needed and certain rules need to be observed, which are now being considered in the USA and the UK. Some of the measures being taken are removal of assault weapons from the public; more important is the recent attempt to place bullets and large magazine holders on restriction, which is an interesting development. Once guns are in the marketplace, they are available for possession. Bullets are a different matter; once they are used, more have to be purchased, and this is where control may be applied effectively.

(5) Violent crimes accounted for 38,000 persons to our medical hospitals in 2005, and in 2006 cost Jamaica $2,100 million; and accounted for 12% of total health expenditure. (Stats: Astley Henry 2012)

Violence caused by illegal arms diverts resources away from schools, infrastructure and healthcare: It undermines sustainable development, causes social destabilisation and robs many persons of a productive future, says William Hague, Secretary of State, UK and the Commonwealth.

In Algeria some weeks ago, terrorists seized abandoned weapons, obtained control of the African country, Mali, formerly the Belgian Congo. Then France had to battle with the insurgents by sending some five to 10,000 troops, and the French Government had to then ask for help from other friendly countries. Terrorists, of whatever persuasion, when given conventional, warlike weapons, will seek refuge in any country, and from there, are capable of taking over that country and their neighbours. They will be difficult to remove, and often return, as they did in Mali today.

Many countries In July 2012 agreed to ratify a treaty relating to arms trading; almost 157 countries participated. I hope that we will be represented in March 2013, as we have been suffering with the influx or arms, and have one of the highest homicide rates in the world. Member states attending this meeting and conference include the USA, China and Russia, the largest producers of conventional arms in the world.

There are people who might say that signing a treaty is irrelevant.

The treaty will not prejudice a legitimate trade in arms: By helping control the flow of weapons by import and export targets, it will establish a global control, and individual states will have to honour global commitments. This simply implies that the country keep weapons (imported or exported), enough to maintain law and order.

Such a treaty would have to include the producers of arms and weapons, the USA, Russia, and China being the largest. A global arms trade treaty will deny rogue states the procurement of illegal arms, and will make the world a safer place to live.




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