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Attorney General Dale Marshall has called on Barbadians to adopt a “zero tolerance” for guns and anyone dealing with these illegal firearms.
Mr. Marshall urged citizens to take this tough stance as he addressed a press conference on Friday, where he said the four shooting deaths the island recorded in three days took the number of homicides for the year to 28.
Speaking directly to the public, the Attorney General said: “If your son or daughter, your boyfriend or girlfriend is involved in that way of life, bringing guns in the house, hiding them under the mattress, tell them not with you…. If you, your partner, your mother, your father, your brother, your sister, whoever it is, is involved in that way of life, zero tolerance means that we have a vested interest in telling them to … get out of that way of life….
“I understand this is a difficult conversation; it will be hard for some because some of the members of the public may rely on these individuals for support. They may say, well I can’t do this to my child’s father…. But the fact is that if you don’t, you have to accept that you may well become a casualty because you support that particular way of life.”
Mr. Marshall expressed the view that a whole of country approach must be adopted to deal with the crime situation, as was done earlier to successfully fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, he stated that every Barbadian has a role to play in this fight.
“The statistics in relation to the other crimes are down. So, if we’ve been able to quell the other kinds of criminal activity using particular interventions and methods, there’s no reason why we should not be able to succeed in firearm crimes by using the same approach….
“It will require steady, diligent work on the part of the Police Service, on the part of the Government and equally important, on the part of the people of Barbados,” he stressed.
Stating that the recent homicides were not random shootings, the Attorney General said this spate of instability was being caused by two or three groups that were engaging in feuding and recriminations.
“These criminals know and plot for the people who they are targeting, and invariably it is the associates or members of the rival groups,” he disclosed.
He gave the assurance that the island remains a safe place, with citizens being safe in their homes and communities.
He said the country had not descended into any state of anarchy. However, he acknowledged that the current spike could have a severe effect on the country and the way of life of its people.
Stressing that “this gun play must stop”, he asserted that “we have it within our power to stop it”.
He noted that law and order was a priority for Government, and this was evident by the fact that every time the Barbados Police Service asked for resources or equipment, the administration had tried to put them in place.
“At a policy level, we are continuing our efforts to ensure that the Service has every resource that it requires in this fight…. I want to make sure that the Barbados Police Service is the best-equipped police service in the region. We have fine police officers and we must make sure that they have our support, in terms of the best things to work with; so we are working on that,” he stressed.
Mr. Marshall disclosed that a one-day meeting was held last week with the police, Director of Public Prosecution and others to, among other things, further agree to adopt a series of measures to ensure that case files relating to murders and firearms moved through the system swiftly. “I’m looking forward to seeing those operational initiatives being implemented; the priority of our criminal system has to be murder cases and firearms,” he said.
The Attorney General encouraged Barbadians to come forward and share any information they have on crime.
He added that if they were hesitant they should call Crime Stoppers, as tips which came through that avenue had been pivotal in solving crimes.
He said the easy access to firearms in the USA had created a huge problem for the Caribbean, as those guns had made their way onto our streets.
He noted that Caribbean countries were experiencing similar problems with an influx and use of firearms.
SOURCE: Barbados Government Information Service. Headline photo: Stock image.