Guns and the failing PNM
THE EDITOR: On September 30, 2022, the Mexican Government lost its case against ten US gun manufacturers for being part of the smuggling of illegal guns across the Mexican border. It was seeking US$10 billion in damages.
In dismissing the case, the federal court in Boston ruled that federal law strictly prevents lawsuits against gun manufacturers when guns are used for their “intended purpose.” But since guns were used to commit crimes, that argument does not apply.
The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) prevents firearms manufacturers and dealers from being held liable when crimes committed with their products (Wikipedia). “Mexico is seeking to hold defendants liable for practices that occurred within the United States and only resulted in harm in Mexico, this case thus represents a valid domestic application of the PLCAA, and the presumption against extraterritoriality does not apply.”
Despite the headwind of the PLCAA that caused the failure of Mexico’s case, the TT Government has joined the appeal of the Mexican Government. Is that to detract from its failure to prevent crimes at home? The shocking news is that the US or, for that matter, no sovereign nation can be held liable for the failure of foreign governments to control extraterritorial crime?
The Mexico and TT Governments, two woe-begotten countries mired in murders they are helpless to maintain, are looking to point their blood-stained fingers at wealthy corporations outside their borders.
Gun smuggling is a growing industry in Trinidad. Blaming the US or Austria, where the top-selling handgun, the Glock, was designed and primarily manufactured, is not the answer to our crime problem. But, apart from the US, three major gun manufacturers are Russia, France and China.
Moreover, strictly relying on God or any deity to solve murders, home invasions and robberies is not the solution. Furthermore, we cannot ask the police alone to end crime. Their job is to respond and protect the public from criminal elements, and now, because of our porous borders, the criminals have ready access to firepower as never before.
Therefore, all arms of the social order must be involved, beginning with the Office of the Prime Minister, the Ministries of Finance, Education, Caricom and Foreign Affairs, Community Development, and Energy. It is everyone’s job to join in this fight for survival.
Therefore, the Government should stop clutching at straws by looking to scapegoat the US. Instead, it needs to devise a comprehensive action plan with all arms of the relevant institutions – police, military, judiciary and even religions – involved and go all out to protect innocents who become collateral damage in gang operations that are daily exacerbated by the free flow of arms across the land.
All lives, from the poorest to the wealthiest, are precious and must be protected at all costs. Anything less is an abrogation of the primary purpose of government. If this Government, after seven years, cannot get the job done, then it should do the honourable thing – step aside and let the people choose a successor. Our beleaguered nation cannot wait for the 2025 general election when countless others would have needlessly died. We need to end the carnage now.
Apart from the failed PNM Government, the UNC fell during its time in government. Now that it is the opposition, a viable part of governance, it cannot stand in the shadows and throw barbs at the PNM at every opportunity hoping it will fail so that the UNC can boast, “I told you so.”
If, however, it had implemented institutional and constitutional reforms when it held the reins of power, it could have claimed the high ground of morality and integrity and still be the party in power. But it did not, so it is not.
If, at the next general election, either the PNM or the UNC wins, I will be the first to admit that we are an existentially failed state and will remain so in perpetuity. I will then hang my head in shame at what this once great nation, with so many resources and potential, has become.
"Guns and the failing PNM"