Get the guns, lawbreakers

Get the guns, lawbreakers

Thursday, January 21, 2021

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Dear Editor,

It is like a recurring decimal, year after year, crime and violence spiking and spiralling beyond the control of the security force's ability to properly tame the double-headed monster.

The weapon of choice claiming hundreds of Jamaican lives at the squeeze of a trigger is the gun. The security forces were kept at bay in May 2019 by heavily armed thugs who held the owners of a supermarket hostage in May Pen, Clarendon. The men were strapped with guns that the average police officer doing beat and foot patrols do not have.

The number of incidents involving illegal guns here in Jamaica's little 2.8 million population is a cause for concern not only for the security forces, but for all Jamaicans and tourists alike.

In 2017 the US Customs seized a shipment of over 100 guns and hundreds of ammunitions destined for Montego Bay. The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) reports that over 2,000 guns and 43,000 rounds of ammunition were seized between 2015 and 2018.

It is unsettling to know that 2021 is not yet a month old and the security forces have intercepted two different shipments of guns totalling 24 and ammunitions totalling over 570 at the wharf in the second city. To say there are too many guns in our little island — one that is not at war — is an understatement. Social media is laden with pictures and videos of Jamaicans youth posing with high-powered weapons, showing no fear of the law.

The JCF's 'Get the guns' campaign, launched in 2015, was seemingly no deterrent to thugs who seem to have a reliable source to replace the few weapons the security forces recover.

The law should come down stronger on individuals convicted of gun crimes to send a statement to criminals. The sentences of four and five years for individuals caught with guns are not strong enough to cause a fear of possessing the deadly weapons.

The lawmakers need also to look into the use of children to transport guns because children often get a slap on the wrist. There are too many guns which are causing too much bloodshed.

Hezekan Bolton

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