Boast we all gun-runners sans borders?
Yes, we have advised against public panicking in this matter of increased gun-related crime and armed gang conflicts. But the counsel must not be misconstrued to be synonymous with advocacy of indifference and inertia. We have strongly suggested the practice of vigilance –– and with it ought to come cooperation with our police.
Surely, vigilance at all levels is key. That’s why we remain flummoxed by Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite’s very recent admission that the Freundel Stuart administration was somewhat in the dark about the extent of the influx of firearms and burgeoning gun problem, and by his taking some comfort in its not only being a Barbados challenge, but that of other Caribbean countries too.
The Attorney General would bury his head in the notion that given “the large number of islands” in the region and the ease with which people could travel through our regional borders, containment or curtailment of gun-trafficking would be nigh impractical. According to him, none of the Caribbean states has the capacity to man all of its borders.
Mr Brathwaite nonetheless informed us that 60 per cent of the firearms infiltrating the Caribbean were from North America, in particular the United States, and the remaining 40 per cent from South America. Information got, even though the knowledge of the quantity of illegal guns existed only upon discovery at crime scenes and their confiscation.
“You really don’t know if you are winning the battle, because it is difficult to assess how many [firearms] are coming into the region,” our Attorney General stated.
And his nebulous concept of a solution would be to continue training border security, examining the weaknesses in the security “apparatus” and pushing education of young people –– from school level –– particularly in the application of conflict resolution and mediation.
The Attorney General is not unknown for thought meandering on matters pertaining to crime, security and national safety. We recall Mr Brathwaite making a strong case for the assimilation of former convicts into the society at large –– specifically back into the family from whence he came, and into the general workforce. He was particularly pained by the alleged homelessness
of these ex-offenders.
Too often, he argued a few years back, these former inmates, after leaving Her Majesty Prisons Dodds, were faced with having no proper shelter because their families and friends would rather not have them around; or, if they would, the ex-offenders would have as a condition to find themselves a job –– which would naturally be somewhat challenging.
Mr Brathwaite appeared to circumvent the fact that having a criminal record –– particularly a serious one –– was a deterrent to securing a job; the fact that as much as we might philosophize about former prisoners deserving a second chance, and even a third, the reception of ex-convicts into the general workplace would not be automatic. Yet our Attorney General would have these poor former prisoners believe that it should be –– or actually was. They were being sold the concept that it was their right.
These comforts will not come merely because the Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs wishes they would.
Mr Brathwaite sought comfort himself in his expressed link between the “failures” throughout the education system and young people ending up in the criminal justice system. Ironically, the said education system the Minister of Home Affairs would thrash produced the vast majority of educated, non-criminal, law-abiding citizens –– including Mr Brathwaite himself –– we like to boast of in this country.
Perhaps, our Attorney General has had a rethink of his gentility towards the criminal-minded, in light of his Government’s nigh helplessness against the gun-runners and gangsters.
In Parliament just this week he was minded to say that “some of us need to take a firm stand” against the growing gun violence in our island. He even advised that fellow MPs with knowledge of elements involved in gun-related crimes should see how they could get these villains out of the habit. Again,
he was unclear on how.
We look forward though to the study on local gangs forthcoming in the next few months –– and his take on it.
Just maybe it will present us with the wherewithal to lead our youth away from this uncomfortable past-time of gun crime, and reduce the agony of us all –– and of our nigh helpless and confessing Attorney General to boot.
Let’s not panic, please!