Gun violence in Barbados is an epidemic spiralling out of control, fuelled by abundant firearms in an “aggressive society, the Government’s top criminologist Kim Ramsay has suggested.
Almost half of the island’s murders were gun-related, Ramsay, criminologist for the Government’s Criminal Justice Research and Planning Unit. Last year, the murder death toll was 31.
Ramsay said she was extremely concerned about the impact the easy availability of firearms was having on the country.
“Our borders are porous and we have gun smuggling going on in the island; we don’t know how the guns are coming.”
“It is so easy now to take up a gun and shoot somebody when there is a conflict as opposed to saying let me just walk away and calm down my head and come back,” said Ramsay.
“‘Man I going home and get a gun and shoot he,’” she said was a common response during disputes.
While speaking at St Michael’s Cathedral in The City for the International Day of Peace, Ramsay went on to stress that in today’s society, many sought to resolve their feuds with bullets instead of fists.
“Disputes that were once dissolved by fist fights are now ended in gun battles and young men are very willing to use violence for economic gain. We have to be very careful as a society that whenever there is a conflict that somebody decides to solve it with a gun,” the criminologist emphasized.
Ramsay continued by asserting that Barbados was developing a culture of aggression. She revealed that violence was engrained in some communities and a norm and was being perpetuated throughout society.
“In some communities people are taught to be violent,” Ramsay told Barbados TODAY.
“Everybody is now aggressive and I have heard people say all the time why are people are so angry? We need to express love and an ability to resolve conflict in different ways,” she continued.
Ramsay revealed that a majority of the homicides that occurred were over trivial matters such as a game gone wrong. She expressed that conflict management was needed more than ever.
“Some people are naturally aggressive but it is a behavior that can be unlearnt, you can be aggressive…there is nothing wrong with being aggressive but when it becomes violent that is another matter,” she argued.
The criminologist attributed weakening social bonds within society to the violence and delinquency being exhibited among the youth.
“As a society we have to understand… as social agents, the damage or lack of damage we can do to children by how we socialize them because if children are not given the adequate care attention and guidance by those within their care they are left to run amok,” she stated.