Just one week – it’s all the time Government will give those in possession of firearms to hand them in without fear of prosecution, the Attorney General has announced.
Dale Marshall has told those who carry unlicensed guns or ammunition to bring them to the nearest police station from Saturday, April 7.
The Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs announced the amnesty while laying the Bail (Amendment) Bill in the House of Assembly today. The last such amnesty was 21 years ago.
But, unlike, previous amnesties in 1983 and 1998 which lasted for six months, Marshall declared that one week is enough time to hand in any illegal firearms and ammunition.
He told the House: “I have consulted with the police force and I announce today that after this legislation is passed and becomes law later in the week, a gun amnesty will be offered to Barbadians.
“But let me make it clear, Sir, in 1983 the gun amnesty was for six months, however, this firearms amnesty will not be so generous. You have one week. Anybody who has in their possession an unlawful firearm or ammunition the amnesty runs from Sunday, 7th of April 2019 to Saturday, 13th of April 2019 at midnight. At midnight Sir, all gloves are off.
“Somebody once said to me a gun without a bullet is a hammer. So we want the hammers and nails. If you have an unlicensed firearm it does not take you six months to figure out whether or not you want to hand it in. It can’t take six months.”
In a stern message to gun-toting criminals, Marshall declared he will not allow them to hold the country ransom. Throughout his speech, he repeatedly said: “Do not test our resolve.”
He continued: “I am warning the criminal element of Barbados do not test our resolve. Our mission is to get the guns off the streets. This is not something that we can be flippant about. A Government is elected for the purpose of protecting citizens not to coddle criminals.
“We are here to protect the lives, livelihoods and interest of the majority of people ten or 15 hoodlums will mash up our country . . . Do not test our resolve.”
The Attorney General has promised the country that he will report to them at the end of the amnesty to detail what and how many guns were recovered.
Declaring that this was yet another measure aimed at tacking the recent spate of murders, Marshall said they are well aware they may not receive the types of guns they are looking for.
“Some people believe that the kinds of guns we want to get off the streets don’t come in in an amnesty . . . . Somebody who spends $10 000 on an AK47 is not likely to show up at a police station and say sir I am washing my hands of this… But they could never say I didn’t have a chance to do…”
The purpose of a gun and ammunition amnesty is to allow individuals, who have in their possession, unlicensed firearms, part of firearms, ammunition they know they should not have to bring them into to police without fear of any action being taken against them.