FORMER parliamentarian now Police Commissioner Gary Griffith is calling on politicians to put country before self and support his call for the amendment to the Bail Act, targeting those charged with possession of high-powered rifles.
"We need to be careful when people hold positions in parliament. They operate as people who are there to look after the well-being of the country and not themselves. They are caught up in that tunnel vision of 'me being a defence attorney' because when you do that you are not looking at the bigger picture. The bigger picture is the fact that these are weapons of war, weapons of mass destruction, weapons that are used for murder."
Griffith who spoke at the weekly media briefing yesterday said while he was Minister of National Security he supported the police in going after criminals specifically gangsters and gun offenders and now there are people who were part of his political party now defending some of the same criminals they sought to jail.
While he called no names, he mentioned a defence attorney who was a temporary senator who is defending criminals to get bail for gun related offences. Griffith and defence attorney Wayne Sturge, a former temporary senator, had a public falling out over the Commissioner's insistence that those held with automatic rifles should not get bail.
Griffith has been lobbying for the denial of bail for anyone who is charged with possession automatic rifles and has been met with resistance from many. Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi promised to amend the law to facilitate the request. Staying true to his word, the matter was raised in senate on Tuesday and is expected to be passed. It will see offenders being denied bail for 120 days.
Acting Deputy Commissioner of Police Jayson Forde, who was also in attendance said while he did not have all the data on hand to show the number of people killed for the year with automatic rifles namely AR-15, there is a link between the guns and the South American continent.
"If you have someone with weapons like these" Griffith said holding up his personal Galil rifle, similar to the AR15, "you know what the intentions are. Their intention is to kill and you can kill dozens within seconds. Time for the good in the community to circle the wagon. There are those who want to fight back against what we are doing, we have to fight back for the law-abiding citizens in this country. It is time that the scales of justice be tilted towards law abiding citizens and not criminals that is what the law is about."
Griffith said the weapons used in the 1990 attempted coup are "muskets" compared to the AR-15 adding that TT could have more murders than war torn countries with that type of artillery in the hands of criminals. He said the guns which are sold for between $17,000 and $25,000 are being smuggled both through legal and illegal ports. He added that, by the end of the year, the Coastal Police Unit will be operational having identified the officers that will make up the unit. He said vessels were to be bought that would allow the police to patrol from the shore to two miles off shore and patrol the Caroni Swamp and other tributaries.
He ended calling for politicians to assist him in fighting gun violence saying, "Any politician that can justify someone having something like this that can kill 35 people in seconds I see it as being irresponsible and they need to get their act together. We try to justify when a person has a weapon like this with the fire-power to kill hundreds of individuals that they have a right to bail. This is not a sick country. This is not a banana republic. I am going to fight and say what is required to say to protect the law abiding citizens."