THE EDITOR: I remember walking from a friend’s home just below the two huge tanks on the Laventille hill to my home at the top of St Paul’s Street late at night. My fear then was how to get home without getting bitten by dogs. To ensure a safe journey home a stick was all that was needed.
It was common each August to have Canadians visit us at the St Martin’s Welfare Association at the top of St Paul’s Street. At night, we would walk through the government housing projects and sit on the rocks overlooking Port of Spain into the early morning without ever worrying about getting mugged.
Today these areas are deemed hot spots and residents fear walking along the roadway or paths after dark.
It is possible to return to a level of public safety that we once enjoyed. All that is needed is the political will to seriously deal with crime. Police Commissioner Gary Griffith cannot be the panacea for all our criminal ills.
The starting point must be to get guns out of our communities. Guns are made for one purpose – to kill. In general guns are made to kill men and animals. In TT we have very sensible gun laws. One is given permission to own a gun for either killing men or animals.
If you are a military person or law officer, you are given a gun to prevent others from killing you. A civilian can carry a gun to kill animals if you are a farmer or hunter or for self-defence if your daily activities are such that someone may wish to kill you. The law allows for you to make a case for carrying a gun and requires training in its safe use.
Additionally, the law allows for you to certify that you are of sound mental and physical health and that your spouse or close family are comfortable with you carrying a firearm. Moreover, after you are granted a firearm, the law requires that it is discharged at a forensic institution and data recorded to ensure that if your gun is used to kill someone, it can be identified as your gun.
Based on the above there should be no impediments to owning a legal gun if one meets the requirements.
The problem is dealing with illegal guns. That is where the political will is required. One must always be reminded that guns are for one purpose – to kill. As such, anyone who carries an illegal gun can be deemed a potential killer. The argument of self-defence is muted by the fact that there are legal ways to get a gun for self-defence.
Our laws must be such that the very thought of possessing an illegal firearm ought to be frightening. People caught with an illegal firearm should be seen as potential murderers and treated that way. The law should be amended to allow for immediate trial for all gun-related offences.
Secondly, the penalty for possessing an illegal gun should be no less than 30 years in prison with no bail. The State should however allow for all those convicted under this law to be assessed every five years with a chance of obtaining parole if they prove to have been sufficiently rehabilitated and ready to be a better citizen. That should be the case for most convicted criminals.
Thirdly, there should be a period for all people who have illegal guns to turn them in to the authorities without getting charged for gun possession. This must be the beginning of making TT safe again.
political leader, DPTT