Gun crimes: start with the police

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By Elesha George
[email protected]
Residents believe that the effort to curb gun crimes in Antigua and Barbuda must start within the Royal Police Force.
All of those interviewed by Observer media on the recent changes to the Firearms Amendment Bill 2017 believe that there are police officers within the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda who help offenders obtain weapons and ammunition and/or neglect their law enforcement duties by facilitating these gun crimes.
One man told OBSERVER media that the police should conduct internal investigations to weed out bad officers. “It is a concern, and it needs to be dealt with. Start by investigating their own people. Have a system put in place like a certain police force that actually investigate police officers.”
Another man said, “There must be a source, and the people in charge must get to that source. And unless that is done, hardly anything will change. Antigua is small and everybody knows everybody else. So, if I know that this guy is supplying guns and ammunition, some police can know just like I do.”
“Some officers,” a young woman said, “will know but they just won’t say because if they try and do it, somebody may want to kill somebody because they ratted them out.”
On the other hand, she said, some residents don’t go to the police because there is no trust between the police and the citizenry, and also, they may feel that the police “will not do anything about it. I know some of them are very good, but some of them, they won’t help.“
A much older woman believes that some people join the police force for retaliation saying that, “They are the law, and they feel they can do things, and they do things and they get away.”
She told OBSERVER media, “I believe the police is involved, maybe, in some of the murders. I’m not saying I know who, but I believe some of the crimes is them [who do it].”
There was also a general consensus among those interviewed, that stricter penalties for gun crimes are necessary. In fact, they all agreed to the penalties outlined in the Fire Arms Amendment Bill passed in Senate on Monday, September 30.
The bill eliminates the imposition of a fine as an option from the sentencing provision and has introduced more severe penalties for offenders convicted of offences under the Firearms Act by increasing the term of imprisonment.
John Allan said, “It’s about time that they did something like that because it is ridiculous to see that people got guns, and they go to jail for a short period of time, and they end up coming out and still go back doing the same thing. So, it is fair.”

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