A former member of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service Commission has issued a dire warning that Barbados risked falling into the same “gun violence pitfall” into which his country found itself two decades ago, unless strong measures were taken to stop the “free fall”.
Outspoken social commentator and Seventh Day Adventist pastor Clive Dottin yesterday pleaded with local church leaders to help stop the rising number of gun crimes perpetrated by juveniles and young adults.
“When a 16-year-old has a gun in his hand, he feels invincible. We didn’t have that problem 20 years ago, I want to emphasize that. If you never had a gun in your hand you don’t know what that power feels like. When a teenager has a gun in his hand he feels all powerful and that is a different ball game to 20 years ago,” Dottin told the Heart Of My Country panel discussion at the Desmond Haynes Sports Complex at Holders Hill, St James.
Speaking on Challenges And Solutions To Gun Violence, Dottin said it was not too late to stop the country’s perceived downward spiral, however, he said the solution required “all hands on deck”.
He argued that the job of tapping into the redeeming qualities of misguided youth was not one that the church could delegate to expensive psychiatrists, as the cost was dissuasive and prohibitive.
“Some of the young people we say are bad want to change. Some of them are trapped and don’t know how to come out because they fear they would be shot and killed. That is when they need someone to stand by them and support them. Don’t write off the young people, don’t write off the gunmen,” the Trinidadian stressed.
According to 2015 study by the Criminal Justice Research and Planning Unit, Barbados still has one of the lowest crime rates in Caribbean at 9.7 per 100,000 inhabitants. However the research also found that 42 per cent of homicides were as a result of gun violence.