Wed | Dec 2, 2020

Letter of the Day | Gun amnesty the wrong move

Published:Tuesday | July 2, 2019 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has recently stated that the Government is considering implementing a gun amnesty. This is an initiative whereby persons would be paid to turn in illegal guns or for information that led to their recovery.

It is common knowledge that Jamaica has a gun problem. Therefore, there needs to be a shift in focus towards preventing illegal guns from entering the country.

The guns-for-drugs trade between Jamaica and Haiti is booming. There are numerous unregulated seaports or points of trade in our coastal waters where these transactions are taking place. Notably, the Coast Guard and the country’s security forces have struggled to defend our borders from gun trafficking.

Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang recently spoke out about cost being a prohibitive factor in the efforts at securing our borders. He quoted the cost of a seacraft at J$1 billion and an aircraft at almost $4 billion, both of which were recently purchased to aid in the fight against the gun-drug trade. We cannot, however, look for excuses when the country is under siege by heartless killers armed to the teeth with high-­powered assault rifles. More needs to be done.

Legislation needs to be amended to impose harsher penalties on those convicted of gun trafficking. Make no mistake about it: Guns are tools used to kill. Any person involved in bringing illegal guns into Jamaica is facilitating the murder of civilians and should be punished accordingly.

Amendments to the Firearms Act were announced to have been approved by Cabinet in June 2018 and were to be tabled in Parliament for passing. It would be welcome if the Government would act with as much fervour in getting this amendment passed as they did with the recent NIDS bill as this is a matter of the utmost importance to the security of Jamaica’s citizens.

PAYTON PATTERSON

paytonpatterson97@gmail.com