If acting Attorney General Michael Lashley gets his way, gun offenders in Barbados will soon have to wait at least 100 days before they are even considered for bail.
As part of a new and tougher approach to rising firearms-related crime, Lashley, who is a criminal defence attorney, wants Government to consider going the same route as Trinidad and Tobago, in terms of beefing up its firearms legislation.
“This is my personal view. Trinidad has passed a Firearms Act and their Firearms Act speaks to over a hundred days on remand before you can apply for bail . . . once you are found with a firearms or committed any offence with a firearm . . . a firearms-related offence, and they have actually passed that legislation,” noted Lashley.
In the wake of two shooting deaths which marred yesterday’s St Philip Carnival celebrations on Independence Day,
Lashley, who is the area representative for St Philip North, is further insisting that gun-related crime needs to be addressed “frontally”.
“I have spoken to the substantive Attorney General [Adriel Brathwaite] this morning, so when he comes back we would have a discussion on it, but of course, I have a concern,” the acting Attorney General said.
While stressing that “we need to deal with this firearm problem, confront it and really deal with it frontally”, he acknowledged that changes have been proposed to the local Firearms Act.
“It needs to be reformed. It was challenged in the Court of Appeal and deemed as unconstitutional. And so, I know that the substantive Attorney General is working basically very hard in terms of getting the new Firearms Act in place,” explained Lashley.
However, he acknowledged that legislation alone would not solve the gun crimes issue.
“We have to look at the root causes and look at solutions,” he said.
Yesterday, Dwayne Burgess of Marley Vale, St Philip was shot on Ruby Main Road in the same parish at around 5 p.m. following an altercation with an unknown man. In a separate incident Shane Nurse of Ruby, St Philip was also shot multiple times after a verbal dispute around 6.55 p.m.
Both victims died on arrival at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH). However, Burgess was taken there by private transport, while Nurse was rushed to hospital by ambulance.
In expressing condolences to the families, Lashley said “I know the two individuals, and of course, I am concerned, also in my capacity as acting Attorney General, concerned really with the gun crime that we are having at this stage.”
However, he said he understood that there were no issues with the bands in the Carnival and that the shootings were not connected to any of them either.
“I don’t want to be insensitive, but at this moment it is a delicate matter; the police are carrying out investigations. The police of course will do whatever is necessary,” he said.
He was speaking following the official launch of phase one of the Transport Authority Service Integration Pilot Project (TASI) at the Transport Board’s Fairchild Street Bus Terminal.
In a statement this evening, the St Philip Carnival Committee also said it was saddened by the unfortunate incidents which took the lives of two young men from the St Philip community yesterday.
“We extend deepest condolences to the families of Dwayne Burgess of Marley Vale and Shane Nurse of Ruby Tenantry.
Our parish is close knit and this loss is felt by the executive, band leaders and other stakeholders,” the statement said.
“We have been informed that these incidents happened outside of the carnival.
The committee abhors any form of violence and condemns any threat to public safety,” it added.