Wed | Dec 1, 2021

Stun gun craze a hit at UWI

Published:Sunday | April 28, 2019 | 12:33 AMRomario Scott - Gleaner Writer

As concerns mount over the safety of students attending universities in the Corporate Area, some are turning to tasers and pepper spray to protect themselves from hoodlums hell-bent on raiding their bags of valuables.

Anna-Kay Graham*, 23, told The Sunday Gleaner that she walks with her taser in fear of being attacked, especially at nights leaving The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, where she studies medicine.

“I have had it for two years and it makes me feel safe rather than walking around empty-handed. Sometimes, I am alone, and I don’t know what can happen, so for my safety, I have to have something,” she explained.

Assistant Commissioner of Police Fitz Bailey, who heads the Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime Branch, confirmed that tasers were prohibited to the general public but could not say how widespread its use was.

However, easily concealed tasers and pepper spray can be purchased online at popular stores for up to US$100. Sources also say the device can be purchased locally as well.

Graham, though not wanting to give specifics on where she obtained the device, made it clear that her carrying it around was strictly for protection purposes, arguing that university students are extremely vulnerable to criminals.

“It’s not like I am going out there pointing it in people’s faces and showing it off. You have to remember that university people carry around valuables. Not only laptops, but other smart devices, thumb drives, hard drives, and so many other things.

“To let go of those things is not easy. But with these criminals, you have to think twice. And it doesn’t even make sense to say there are campus police, and what have you, because they are not very effective in some instances,” she said in justifying her possession of a stun gun.

Last week, a female stall vendor and her customers at The UWI barely escaped an attack from would-be robbers near the Science and Technology Library while students were preparing for examinations that start next week for the majority of the campus.

CHANGE THE LAW

Another woman enrolled at the University of Technology, who holds a senior position on the student council body there, said her mother had bought her a taser for protection as well.

“Although I did not know how to use it at first, I watched YouTube videos and I saw [how to use it].

“I believe that more females need to have it and get to know the true benefits of it. And if it is illegal, as you say, then the Government should change that and see to it that more people have it, and maybe you will find people having less guns in the country,” she reasoned.

Former head of security at the University of Technology, Robert Finzi-Smith, told The Sunday Gleaner that while he was not aware of a large number of students carrying tasers, he would not discount a craze over stun guns.

“I would not be surprised given the level of danger they face … and attack,” he said.

* Not her real name.

romario.scott@gleanerjm.com