A leading cleric and trained social worker is contending that gun crimes are driving fear in the hearts of Barbadians, forcing many to remain behind closed doors.
And, according to Reverend Clayton Springer of the Welches Wesleyan Holiness Church, the feeling of dread is virtually crippling both the young and the elderly.
“I think that is where much of the society is now, particularly the elderly, there is that fear of going out. The younger ones who are not involved have that sense of insecurity too,” Springer told Barbados TODAY.
The cleric touched on a number of issues, including violence among students travelling on public service vehicles and homelessness among women and children – the latter creates a different phenomenon because if a child is on the streets his educational ability will be impaired, he said.
But it was the issue of gun violence that and “the whole disrespect for human life” that attracted most of his attention.
He said many of those involved in such crimes were feeling left out, and were motivated to own guns so they could feel empowered.
And he was suggested that too many of them were much too young to fully fathom the consequences of their action.
“The types of ages [of those] we are seeing holding guns is really a cause of concern. The kind of age of the boys you are seeing with guns and the kind of background don’t suggest in most cases these are persons who are really rational in thinking through the consequences of handling a firearm. The knowledge of the power to kill, maim or severely injure another person does not appear to me to be a consideration that is being demonstrated by these people,” he said.
Springer, a former director of the National Assistance Board, also expressed concern at the ease with which illegal guns are falling into the hands of the youth.
“I do not know if guns are being made in Barbados or if they are imported. Sometimes when I read the newspapers I see that guns are discovered at the ports of entry to be assembled. It is frightening because a lot of people are being killed. The damage that has been done psychologically and emotionally to families is not factored into the consideration either. On average when one person dies by gun violence at least another five or six persons in the immediate circle of family and friends may have been impacted. When this is multiplied across a small country like Barbados one can imagine the kind of trauma people are experiencing.”
The cleric also commented on the circulation on social media of photos of female students in their school uniforms fighting their male counterparts on school buses.
This was all part of the lawlessness that has gripped the society, he argued.
“The fighting of students on school buses mirrors the anger, frustration and the sense of disengagement that people are sensing in the society. From a sociological point of view we could list a couple of theories that would impinge upon this type of behaviour. People do not feel a part of the society, people feel that the only way to get what they want is to express themselves in some negative ways and the whole question of caring for each other’s sensitivity seems to be lost,” Springer explained.