In the wrong hands

In the wrong hands

What appears to have been a targeted fatal shooting in South Reward early Sunday (see Monday newspaper) has again raised concerns about gun violence on the island. It follows another – be it not deadly – shooting at Simpson Bay early last Thursday, as reported in the Friday/Saturday edition.

Both took place after midnight, near respectively a neighbourhood bar and a nightclub, in the latter case where similar incidents have occurred in the recent past. However, these businesses are not to blame.

In fact, this can happen practically everywhere with so many weapons circulating among delinquents. The proliferation of illegal firearms continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing local authorities.

In the immediate area, Anguilla launched a two-week gun amnesty period at the end of January, while St. Kitts and Nevis (15 days) is currently in one (see related story). Similar “no questions asked” campaigns were held in St. Maarten and other Dutch Caribbean territories before.

These usually precede stricter controls and stronger action against unlicensed firearms possession to serve as deterrent. In St. Kits and Nevis the maximum penalty for such was just increased to 40 years in prison or a fine of 500,000 Eastern Caribbean dollars.

Results of gun amnesties in terms of enhanced public safety have historically not been overwhelming, as mostly otherwise-law-abiding citizens tend to surrender weapons for which they lack valid permits, but neither current nor would-be criminals. Nevertheless, any firearm voluntarily given up is one less that could end up on the street in the wrong hands with all possible consequences.


The Daily Herald

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