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Wake-up call

Government wants its United States counterpart to take action to control the availability of firearms in the wake of last week’s mass shooting deaths in Connecticut.

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart said today that while such a “horrible” act had not occurred in Barbados or in the region, the “unbridled access” to American guns, and related illegal drug activity, remained a big problem.

The St. Michael South MP was speaking in the House of Assembly this afternoon as members debated a supplementary resolution for funds for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.

He expressed his administration’s sympathy following the killing of 27 people, including 20 young children, and said the “act of a lunatic” should be a wake-up call.

“Up to now we have managed to maintain the stability of these societies and to proudly proclaim our subscription to the rule of law, not the rule of the gun and we do not intend to allow the situation in our societies to degenerate to the stage where the rule of law is replaced by the rule of any guns,” he said.

“But we cannot do it on our own. We need the cooperation and support of the United States of America and in that regard I hope that a sensible discussion can now take place on access to firearms, access to assault weapons, so that we in the Caribbean can sleep a little more comfortably than we are allowed to do having regard to the movement of small arms and light weapons in this region, an adjunct to the noxious drug trade,” he added. Stuart said he hoped “the stage is now reached where a serious discussion will take place in that country on the issue of gun control”.

“At the CARICOM level … heads and … ministers of defence and security find themselves having to be constantly discussing the issue of small arms and light weapons and we don’t produce them here in the Caribbean,” he noted.

“They end up in this region out of the United States … because of the very liberal firearms policy that exists there and I hope that we have now got to the stage where we can have a serious discussion on this.

“The unbridled access of too many people in this region to firearms can destabilise this region as well and we have been raising this issue with the United States … for some time. I am aware of how powerful the gun lobby is in that country, but that is a matter that country has to address.”

The official added that “when halt is cried there we in the Caribbean are going to heave a sigh of relief because it means that we too will benefit from the stricter controls imposed on those who now have virtually unbridled access to firearms”. (SC)

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