Tougher measures coming for possession of firearm, says Holness
ST JAMES, Jamaica – Prime Minister Andrew Holness has announced forthcoming amendments to the Firearms Act aimed at combatting the escalating threat of illegal weapons.
This comes in the wake of the triple murder in Salt Spring, St James where two boys and a man lost their lives.
READ: Two children among three killed in Salt Spring
Holness, on a visit to the children’s school, Chetwood Memorial Primary and Infant, on Thursday to console the distressed students and teaching staff, told journalists that these amendments will be designed to bring about even stricter measures against the possession, use, trading, and trafficking of firearms.
In fact, he noted that such “barbarity” cannot be allowed to continue and assured that the Government is intensifying efforts to combat such horrific incidents.
“The public is going to see that even stronger measures are going to be applied to the firearms and illegal use and possession of firearms,” Holness stated.
“In fact, we have already started to increase the penalties for murder and in particular capital murder. In our system the way to separate them is to give them long sentences and take them out of the space. Short of the death penalty, this is the next best thing,” he added.
Emphasising the need for greater penalties and consequences for those involved in such crimes, he outlined a multifaceted approach that not only targets criminals directly but also aims to dismantle the supporting network that shields them.
He said cracking down on crime ecosystems is also atop the Government’s agenda, asserting that knowing the whereabouts of criminals without reporting it makes individuals complicit in the perpetuation of crime.
“There is an ecosystem of crime that has to be tackled. The truth is that someone must have known. Someone knows where the criminals are, and they are equally guilty for not sharing it with the authorities,” he added.
“So, whilst we focus on the actual criminals and perpetrators, we must also seek to dismantle this ecosystem that supports it, because as we increase the sophistication of our investigative capacity, we are not only going to pinpoint the criminals but we are also going to start to pinpoint the people who know,” he said.
Holness urged the community to break the silence and assist the authorities in identifying those responsible for this recent heinous act. He emphasised the significance of coming forward with any information and stressed the legal obligation to do so as well as the role it plays in eradicating the protective shield around criminal elements.
“So, we are going to be targeting the criminal definitely. There will be tougher penalties for the possession of weapons [and] tougher penalties for committing the actual crime. The ecosystems that protect the criminals must also be dismantled,” he outlined.
The school continues to mourn the killing of schoolmates seven-year-old Justin Perry and nine-year-old Nahcoliva Smith. The two boys were fatally shot in a taxi in Salt Spring, St James, alongside 26-year-old Tevin Hayle.
“When it is the murder of children, it sinks us to a new low, and for this particular crime to be committed, it adds another dimension to create fear. It is a stain on our entire consciousness and it is an assault on our sensibilities,” said Holness.