Roman Catholic Bishop of Bridgetown Jason Gordon has repeated his call for the speedy prosecution of gun crimes.
The religious leader, who had initially made the call in his address to the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry earlier this year, again warned in an interview with Barbados TODAY on Wednesday that gun violence, and the drug problem that is usually associated with it, were seriously threatening to rip apart the very fabric of Barbadian society.
“We have to start dealing with the illegal firearm problem because it is causing an escalation in the murder rate in the country,” he said.
And in the wake of several worrying incidents in recent weeks, the Catholic Bishop, who as part of his earlier pastoral work in Trinidad had sought to turn around the lives of many drug lords, said: “Don’t catch up with Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica when it comes to crime, violence, drugs and gangs, I beg you!”
Having seen “the most absurd side of what the reality looks like in gang communities”, he added: “I am saying today that if we do not push back hard as a whole country at this time, it will overtake Barbados.”
Jamaica currently has one of the worst homicide rates in the world of about 45 per 100,000. And while there have been over 300 reported murders in Trinidad so far this year, here in Barbados, there has been a total of 14 killings, including ten gun related deaths for 2016.
The Roman Catholic cleric suggested that if rising crime and violence are to be arrested in the long term, policymakers must address family life and the way in which they help children grow up in society.
Gordon further suggested that policymakers must assist members of society to see life as valuable and to protect the sanctity of life.
While acknowledging that laws against the use of illegal firearms were already on the statute books, he called for enforcement to ensure that anyone found with them feel the full weight of the law.
Gordon argued that drugs are a major part of the upsurge in crime because they have the capacity to corrupt a society, adding that as a society Barbadians have to deal with the guns, the drugs and violence.
“To really deal with the problem we have to create a society where people do not go to drugs and do not go to violence. We have to create a different kind of society and that’s the real work we have to do here in the church and as a nation.”
He charged that part of the problem facing today’s society was that young people wanted to start earning what their parents ended up earning at the end of their working lives.