Senator Lambert Brown: A kiss can be dangerous…if you mean it
Lambert Brown

Senator Lambert Brown has at last set himself on a path that could lead to a glorious legacy for the once much-loved trade unionist, if indeed his speech in the Upper House last Friday is meant and becomes a clarion call in the fight against crime.

First, let us brush aside his facetious comments calling for a 12-month period of mourning for victims of gunmen and their families — no doubt a lame attempt to humour the call for a 12-day period of mourning for late Queen Elizabeth II.

Then let us get over, if we can, his Opposition People's National Party's (PNP) inability to agree within themselves on the need for bipartisan consensus to crush criminality, especially the wanton slaughtering of women, children and men by monstrous marauding gunmen.

The count so far in those in the PNP leadership who are for or against such a consensus is two for — Mr Mark Golding and Senator Brown; and two against — Mr Peter Bunting and Dr Dayton Campbell.

In essence, Senator Brown called for something that we think can work — a series of townhall meetings in communities across the nation to discuss and find solutions to ending the destruction being wrought by illegal firearms.

"Everything can begin to be all right if we work this thing together, nationally, across party lines, across religious denomination, bringing in our artistes, bringing in our students, bringing in our civic society…we can do it…let us do this together," declared Senator Brown.

Arguing that legislation by itself cannot bring about the desired solution to the problems of gun crimes, Mr Brown said: "Let us do something different than just passing legislation and hoping. Despite legislators passing the anti-gang Act…more gangs have exploded in the country… We need to mobilise the entire society — from top to bottom, left and right, centre, and everywhere in a crusade against the guns."

He suggested that a national committee be put in place to plan this campaign, beginning with promulgation of the new firearms law which was on its final journey through the Senate on Friday.

He further proposed that a special joint select committee of Parliament be established to focus on crime reduction in Jamaica. The committee would get reports from the police, use the data to drive policies, and would also invite stakeholders to speak on the matter in camera or in public. The body would then be able to advise Cabinet on measures that can be taken to reduce crime, murders in particular.

"We haven't tried that yet. Successive governments have not tried that yet and I believe it can be done, it ought to be done…This Opposition is not coming here just to oppose," he asserted, adding "So we're not just passing the law, we're going to go out there and sell the law to the people, get the people involved in different ways in assisting us in red carding illegal firearms…"

With murders set to surpass the 1,463 figure of last year, his suggestion is worth serious consideration. It's not far from the suggestions made by the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica and all of civil society.

But coming from a politician, one can hope that it is indeed possible to mobilise the country against crime. Senator Brown needs to follow up and make this his baby, remembering that "a kiss can be dangerous…if you mean it".

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