Acting Commissioner of Police, Enville Williams has been outlining the content of gun amnesty legislation to residents at a town hall meeting at Layou where he also urged for cooperation to rid this country of illegal weapons.
“The official amnesty period is for 90 days, and that amnesty period commences on March 1 of this year and runs until May 31, 2024, of the same year,” the top cop told residents at the meeting on Thursday January 18, at the Layou Government School.
“If now, at this critical moment, somebody in the community has a firearm and they want to hand it in, simply approach the police; approach one of these persons …. ministers of religion, justices of the peace, lawyers, law students, parliamentarians and politicians, head-teachers, firearm dealers, and persons you trust,” he advised.
Reading from a final copy of the National Firearms amnesty document Williams said “The aim really is to rid our streets, rid our homes, rid our communities, our blocks from illegal firearms, so that another mother would not cry because her son has been snatched from her because of the use of illegal firearms”.
“Illegal firearms are a problem and we have to tackle it. The aim of the amnesty is to enhance and improve community safety and security by reducing the ongoing threat of illicit firearms and ammunition in the state, the result of break-ins, theft, and or accidental loss,” the Acting Commissioner stressed.
“The National Firearms Amnesty, therefore seeks to achieve this by allowing persons to use the opportunity to surrender to the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force, the illicit firearms and ammunition in their possession without fear of prosecution for contravening the Firearms Act. The amnesty also extends to replica firearms and/or imitation firearms or parts of the firearms. The intention is to lower the risk of violent offences involving these illegal firearms by safely collecting and disposing of them.”
The meeting in Layou, involving members of the police top brass, was part of the outreach programme initiated by the RSVGPF in its bid to build better police/community relations.
“…we want to do everything that is humanly possible in our powers to reduce the suffering, reduce the uneasiness that you feel in your homes, not just in Layou, but throughout St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The violence, not just the murders, but the robberies; and we recognize as an organization that we are challenged by gun-related offences and the use of firearms have increased throughout our country and it’s causing hurt amongst our citizens”.
“So you have a part to play. If you know of persons in your society, your neighbours, your relatives, your friends who are in possession of illegal and illicit firearms, we are encouraging you, even now before the amnesty takes shape, to approach a police officer, approach somebody you trust and say to them, I have a firearm I need to hand in to the police,” Williams urged.
“We want … as an organization to combat illicit firearms in our country. I want to ask of you, the citizens of Layou, and the citizens throughout St. Vincent and the Grenadines to partner with us as we combat the scourge of illicit firearms and ammunition in this country.”
The acting Commissioner referenced 2023 in which a record number of murders were committed of which 43 were by way of a firearm.
“ So we have a problem. You agree with me that we have a problem with illegal and illicit firearms.
“So we piggybacked tonight on the meetings that we want to speak about the impact of crime in Layou, and we want to start the national dialogues throughout the country about the effects of illegal firearms, and encourage persons to partner with us to rid our streets, our homes, our communities of these illegal and illicit firearms.”