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Concerns expressed about the gun amnesty

Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell – holds the portfolio of Minister of National Security

A retired Superintendent of Police High Command has described as “nothing but stupidness” the gun amnesty being unveiled by the Dickon Mitchell-led Congress government in an effort to take a number of illegal firearms off the street.

Speaking to THE NEW TODAY over the weekend on the issue, the former high-ranking officer is predicting that without giving financial incentives to those who have the weapons in their possession the gun amnesty will fail and not be able to achieve the success that those in National Security are hoping to bring about.

He warned the 21-month old National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration that there can be no successful amnesty without the State paying money to get at the illegal firearms in the country.

He said that based on past experience, those who have these firearms will be reluctant to turn in their weapons as the issue for these people is what is there for them to gain in turning over their firearms.

“You are not gaining nothing. Every case of Amnesty that was done before money was involved – payment was involved. If they were planning something like Amnesty, they didn’t put no thought or planning into this thing,” he said.

“They should have gone back to the files (in RGPF) and see what had happened when firearms were brought in, when people came and give information about firearms,” he added.

Speculation is rife that the current government has not reached agreement on the specific details for the amnesty.

A senior member of Congress indicated that no one will receive a financial incentive for bringing in their illegal firearms.

“…After the amnesty people found with illegal firearms will face mandatory prison sentences with no bail,” he told THE NEW TODAY.

Acting Commissioner of Police Don McKenzie indicated that the Amnesty “has not formally gone into effect” as law enforcement was waiting on Parliament to pass the necessary legislation.

However, he said that at the level of RGPF, force level, he was willing “to give consideration on case by case basis” compensation for those willing to surrender their illegal firearms and ammunition.

“…Some limited financial incentives can be entertained if there is a possibility of the surrender of the firearm – we are prepared to engage,” he added.

According to the retired senior police officer, if a civilian is in possession of an illegal firearm he will be very reluctant to bring it in “if there is nothing for him to get in return for it.”

“Men wouldn’t give up firearms without getting incentives. What is the benefit for a bandit giving up a firearm? A firearm is more important to him so why give it up?”

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In addition, he said that if the holder of an illegal gun “can rent his firearm for $100 or $200 an hour or $300 or $400 a day … you think that I am going to give up my firearm when I am getting $200 a day and ah going to give it up for nothing.”

The ex-high-ranking member of RGPF who was engaged primarily in the area of Crime Fighting warned that those in possession of illegal firearms often do not admit the firearm belonged to them when they handed it over to law enforcement.

He said: “The fellahs with the firearms, they are not going to say they had that firearm – they are not coming in and bring in a firearm and saying that was their firearm. They will give somebody and they say they get it or they will say they see where somebody hide the firearm or they give you information of where that firearm is and collect their money.”

“Nobody ain’t so stupid to bring in a firearm and say that is their firearm. They know it could be linked to a crime or incident so they ain’t going and put themselves in trouble. So if you are having an Amnesty for Firearms it is supposed to be thought out properly.”

“Sometimes fellahs just come and they give the information – they come and say so and so have a firearm and it is in so and so place or ah see so and so does go in a specific tree, a pear tree every now and then. All the pear tree in town you could have firearms in them because all them pear tree in town have holes.”

According to the retired police officer, he is forming the impression that those who are pushing for the gun Amnesty did not thoroughly go through the Amnesty files in the Police Force to look at the Firearm Amnesty files to see what transpired in order to understand “the cons and pros.”

He noted that they are talking about Amnesty but expressed concern about the lack of information in the public domain such as the lack of a broadcast on local radio and television stations and other sections of the local media on the issue.

“If you have Amnesty to get rid of firearms, I have not seen it on my phone, I have not seen it on Digicel App, Cable & Wireless App. What kind of Amnesty is that – you have to sensitise the public.”

“All those things have to be done. If you are doing something like that – you have to utilise the whole media to sensitise the people, so people know.

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