By Latrishka Thomas
Residents of Antigua and Barbuda who hold illegal firearms could be given amnesty if they surrender their guns and ammunition, while persons who provide the police with credible information leading to the seizure of unlicensed weapons could be rewarded.
Minister of Legal Affairs Steadroy Benjamin says that the reinstitution of that programme will be discussed by the Cabinet today.
“We are going to confirm [today] in Cabinet. We are trying to encourage to get firearms off the road so we are going to have an amnesty and also a reward for persons who know of persons with firearms and gives us information so we can deal with them,” he told Observer.
The gun amnesty programme was last instituted in 2017 to curb the use of unlicensed firearms in Antigua and Barbuda. It allowed for members of the public to provide information to the relevant authorities about anyone who has illegal possession of the identified categories of guns and ammunition with no questions asked and no charges brought.
Now, with the rise in gun violence in the country, the government is looking at measures to mitigate against gun crimes which are especially being committed by young people aged 14 to 23.
Last week, Commissioner of Police Atlee Rodney said that while the gun amnesty initiative has not garnered the type of support that lawmen had expected over the years, they have no plans of doing away with it.
Instead, they are adding and increasing other activities such as patrolling the streets.
The constabulary is also hoping to add 50 new recruits to its fleet.
Meanwhile, a 23-year-old Gray’s Farm woman, who currently resides in Barbuda, is in police custody after a firearm and a quantity of cannabis were reportedly found on her property
According to a statement from the police, officers attached to Barbuda Police Station executed a warrant on the property of Aminata Joseph-Wilson at around 4.15pm on July 19, and found 43 grams of cannabis and an unlicensed firearm, which they seized.
Further investigations are ongoing into the matter.
There are also several other matters involving the use of firearms – to include the recent killing of Marlon Christian — that are still under investigation.
A reward of $25,000 is still on the table for anyone who can provide the police with credible information leading to the arrest of that suspect and other persons involved in the recent incidents of robberies and shootings.