July 15, 2014
Prevalence of gun crime alarming

Tue Jul 15, 2014

Another two Vincentians were shot to death last night.

Where are all these guns coming from and why do our people seem so willing to use them against one another?{{more}}

These are questions to which there are no easy answers, but what is known is that last night’s shootings bring the 2014 homicide count in our nation to 23.

At a press conference yesterday, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves spoke about increasing police presence in certain hot spots like Glen, where there have been a number of shootings, in an effort to bring things under control.

Gonsalves, who is also Minister of National Security, hinted that the spate of killings which has been experienced here over the last few weeks may be drug related.

It is safe to say that the news of last night’s shootings, coming so closely on the heels of the abduction of a prominent citizen over the weekend, has alarmed most Vincentians.

And our alarm is justified. These are not scenarios to which we are accustomed in our islands. The precise and flamboyant manner in which most of the recent executions were carried out suggest the presence among us of a breed of professional criminals unlike any we have known before. Yes, there have been series of killings within certain geographic areas, such as the spate of shooting deaths in Paul’s Avenue in 2008, but the 2014 shootings seem to be on another level.

So, beyond feeling alarmed, what are we going to do? We cannot allow our nation to be transformed into one where our people must remain prisoners in their own homes, unwilling to venture out after dark, as is the case in some other countries.

Fingers have been pointed at the Government, with some placing responsibility for what has been happening at their feet. High levels of unemployment among youth and the difficult economic times in which we live are also said to be contributing to what is happening. Poverty, in and of itself does not turn people into criminals; there must be other factors at play. Just what are these factors? What is really going on?

Could the large number of criminal deportees who have been sent home from North America have something to do with the serious crimes which are being committed with such high levels of professionalism? Do the police keep these deportees under their radar once they put their feet back on our shores?

The police should also be more visible in the communities, with increased patrols around the country by the Rapid Response Unit and other units of the Force. Just the knowledge that the police may be around the corner may make potential lawbreakers think twice.

While the executive and the police do have a responsibility to keep law-abiding citizens safe, we, the public, also have a duty to assist the police where possible. There is a significant amount of fear among the citizenry about giving evidence when crimes are committed. This is a vicious cycle, as the criminals know witnesses are afraid, and they are becoming bolder with each crime that goes unpunished. However, by not co-operating with the police, we, the public, are contributing to the deterioration of our own society and the escalation of crime among us.