PM Browne prepared to legislate stiffer penalties for gun crimes

Prime Minister Gaston Browne (OBSERVER media photo)

A revision of the laws governing gun crimes in Antigua & Barbuda is one of the strategies that should be put in place in order to reduce those offences, according to Prime Minister Gaston Browne.

In an interview with OBSERVER media yesterday, Browne lamented that convicts have become repeat offenders because of the short prison terms they receive, and suggested that there should be a revision of the gun crime laws.

“One of my disappointments is that I find that our magistrates have some of them going in and out of jail within a year. You have to put them away for a longer period,” Browne said. “If they’re not prepared to do it, we’ll go to Parliament and change the law and mandate that they do so.”

The Prime Minister’s comments were in response to the spate of gun-related crimes being committed across the country, and shortly after three men were charged with murder and shooting with intent to murder.

Police charged Dorian Marshall, Shalom Bailey, and Jason Millet with the offences, on Monday, after a 20-year-old woman, Xavier Thomas, died from injuries she sustained during a drive-by shooting in Cedar Grove on Friday night.

Two men – 49-year-old Lorne “TI” Nicholas, and Sean Matthew, 32, were also wounded in the attack and requiredtreatment in the hospital.

Yesterday, the National Coalition of Neighbourhood Watches (NCNW) praised the officers of the Royal Police Force of Antigua & Barbuda for the timely arrest of Marshall, Bailey and Millet.

Browne continued, “I can understand a first-time offender, but when a man literally has chosen crime and violence as a profession, especially when it involves gun crime, you’ve got to put them away for a longer period.

“We expect that they are going to deal with these individuals who come before them accordingly — not that you’re going to give them some small term — six months, nine months in jail and then they’re back out committing gun crimes,” PM Browne said.

“The safety of country comes first; it requires a complete national response. Fighting crime is not an exclusive domain of law enforcement or the Cabinet. It requires the entire community to address this issue.”

Earlier this week, the Ministry of National Security announced that it would hold a press conference to address crime in the country. The session, which had originally been planned for yesterday, has been rescheduled to 11:30 am, tomorrow.

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