An Opposition Member of Parliament is calling on Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite to break their silence on the latest explosion of worrying gun crime on the island, which one Government Senator says has descended the island to the depths of the “Wild Wild West”.
Referring specifically to last Friday’s execution style shooting of a taxi driver, St James Central Member of Parliament Kerrie Symmonds told those attending a branch meeting at his Hoytes Village constituency office on Sunday night: “An execution took place at Lucky Horseshoe [Warrens, St Michael], and the Prime Minister of this country has uttered not a word, the Attorney General of Barbados cannot be found”.
However, Symmonds warned that inaction on the part of the leaders of Government could lead to tragic effects on the island’s economy, in particular vital tourism, as he warned of the likelihood of negative travel advisories.
“This country cannot afford to put on the backburner something as senseless and as dangerous as what is taking place in Barbados.
“If the Democratic Labour Party Government does not act with urgency to solve this problem, the Americans, the British, the Canadians will, by virtue of a travel advisory, solve it for us,” the Opposition MP said.
Noting that such an advisory would make citizens of those countries reluctant to visit the island, he said, “Barbados cannot afford that because the only source of foreign exchange we have now . . . the only thing we can stand on is tourism. And the last thing we can afford is for a travel advisory to be issued against Barbados as we go into a winter season”.
The Opposition MP also suggested that the country’s Parliament, which is currently on recess, should be called back into session, “so that we can revisit some of the laws that are relevant in this matter.
“The Firearms Act of Barbados is one such piece of legislation, . . . if you look at the Firearms Act, all guns are the same.”
However, he said that contrary to how weapons are regarded in the law books, “some are of a calibre completely different.
“The ones we are hearing about are called assault weapons that should be far from the streets of this country,” Symmonds said, adding that “the fact that they are on the streets of this country should cause such a sense of concern in the administration that every step of urgency is taken in order to make sure that anybody found with them is visited with the harshest possible penalties known to the law as a deterrent to keep people from choosing that course of action”.
His comments coincided with remarks by Government Senator and religious pastor David Durant, who also highlighted the need for strict enforcement of the island’s firearms laws.
Addressing his congregation at Restoration Ministries, Britton’s Hill, St Michael yesterday, Durant quoted extensively the provisions of Sections 18 and 21 of the Firearms Act which stipulate imprisonment of between 15 and 25 years for offences. He said it is time to apply these laws.
Against the backdrop of recent shooting incidents, including at least two murders, Durant likened the domestic situation to the legendary “wild wild west”.
“Some of our young men and women are trapped in the vicious cycle of drugs and gun violence . . . too much lawlessness is pervading our city,” he said.
“What we need to do is implement what is already written in our law books.
“Get tough on these young men who feel that a gun is their god and they can do whatever they want with it. Life is not important to them anymore.”