Frightening gun finds ... Cops seize 1,139 guns and nearly 18,000 bullets seized in two years
A frightening 1,139 guns and nearly 18,000 rounds of ammunition have been taken off the streets in the past two years, police statistics have revealed. This is worrisome news for seasoned cop, Assistant Commissioner of Police Terrence Bent, who said Jamaica is too small to be harbouring so many illegal guns.
“For a country our size, to be recovering so much guns every year means there is a large amount of guns in the country. It is indicative of the lethal capacities the criminals have at their disposal,” Bent said.
“I am worried of the ability of criminals to get their hands on dangerous weapons in these quantities every year,” he added.
The statistics, which relate to the periods January 1 to December 7 2015 and the corresponding period in 2016, revealed that the police recovered 37 high powered rifles this year, which is 10 more than they did over the corresponding period last year. For Bent, these figures represent how dangerous the nation’s criminals are.
“The availability of these guns increases the capacity for criminals and gang members to inflict serious damage to human life and property, and as such, there is need for police to get the corporation from civil society to continue to remove the guns off the streets,” Bent appealed.
Faced with such alarming figures, Security expert Robert Finzi-Smith told THE WEEKEND STAR that it is perhaps a good time to consider allowing all law-abiding Jamaicans to carry guns.
“Go back to Half-Way Tree on Monday,” Finzi-Smith said referencing an incident in St Andrew where an ex-soldier, who is a licensed firearm holder, shot and killed a man who held him at knife point and attempted to rob him.
“If he had not been armed the outcome probably would have been different,” Finzi-Smith reasoned.
However, Bent said the matter of civilians arming themselves is a personal decision and as such, he cannot make such recommendations.
“Every person should weigh the pros and the cons. Each individual has his own responsibility to make that decision.,” Bent said.
Weighing in on the statistics, chairman of Jamaicans for Justice, Horace Levy, said he commended the efforts of the police in ridding the streets of those illegal guns and ammunition. However, he said more needs to be done to stem the problem at the roots.
“If they do not also stop the guns from coming into the country then taking the guns off the streets is not going to solve the problem. They have done some stopping of guns coming from Haiti, but they don’t seem to be able to stop guns coming from other sources,” Levy reasoned.
Some 596 guns have been recovered so far this year compared to 543 last year. The police has so far seized 7,926 rounds of ammunition this year compared with 9,902 over the same period last year.
In October, Police Commissioner Dr Carl Williams says he wants an average of five illegal guns taken off the streets daily. If that target is realised, it could mean the collection of more than 1,825 guns from the nation's streets annually.