Gov’t admits gun crime concern; opposition party calls for public help

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The minister responsible for public safety, Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin said the government is mulling a number of ideas on how to address the issue of illicit guns on the streets in Antigua.
Benjamin said those in authority are concerned about the state of affairs, particularly in the wake of Thursday night’s shooting death of businessman Campbell Jackson and the shooting of his son Jari Jackson and friend Tevin George. The fatal shooting incident occurred a day before a couple reported being shot at while in their car in the same Green Bay area, but they escaped injury.
“Our intelligence shows us that we have to work harder in controlling the inflow of guns into the state. That’s precisely why, we intend to get at the port, certain machinery in place where we could monitor the contents of containers to prevent the smuggling of arms into Antigua,” he said.
He said other measures will be taken but “I cannot tell you exactly what we are going to do, but we are going to beef up the security in those particular areas to try to curb [and] control the high importation of guns in Antigua & Barbuda”.
It is not the first time a government official is saying the authorities are looking into acquiring scanners for use at the port to detect guns and ammunition.
In February 2014, during the tenure of the United Progressive Party (UPP) administration, former public safety minister Dr Errol Cort said it was on the government’s front burner and he would be seeking the necessary budgetary assistance.
He had also initiated a gun amnesty programme in which two weapons were turned in.
However, no updates were provided after that and the administration changed in June 2014.
Minister Benjamin noted this, and said the government will also consider having several gun amnesty programmes.
“Some years ago, we did an amnesty in Antigua and we encouraged persons to bring their firearms in and amnesty was granted [whereby] no charges will be brought against those persons. We will look at that again too,” he said.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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