Government’s one-week gun amnesty which will allow Barbadians to take their firearms and ammunition to any police station around the island without being questioned has garnered mixed public reaction.
Attorney General Dale Marshall announced the amnesty this afternoon in Parliament as he made his contribution to the Bail Amendment Act 2019 when he said the amnesty would be in effect from Sunday, April 7 ending at midnight on April 13, 2019.
Just after the announcement as made a Barbados TODAY team visited Bridgetown and its environs to capture some perspectives on the one-week amnesty.
A St Thomas resident was skeptical about the gun amnesty noting that they have had very little success in the past.
Mary Leacock, a security officer who resides in the St Michael area said she would like people to adhere to the gun amnesty and turn in all of their firearms.
“I would like it to work and stop this violence. Everyone needs to come together,” she said.
She was supported by a Christ Church resident who told Barbados TODAY one week is more than enough time for persons to hand in their illegal firearms to law enforcement officers. If they feel threatened, he added, they can turn in the firearms with their legal counsel.
“The reality of it is if you have a weapon that you want to turn in then you can have counsel or go with your priest or take someone with you if you feel that you may have some challenges once you go to the police station with a weapon. So, you can have that comfort zone to give you that level of protection,” he told Barbados TODAY.
Meanwhile, a self-employed St Michael resident who requested anonymity suggested it is a step in the right direction.
“Right now if this gun violence doesn’t stop it will run people from coming in and tourism brings in foreign exchange. If we don’t get the foreign exchange we will not be able to pay our imports bill,” he said.
One City vendor said one week is not enough time to have a gun amnesty as countries around the world have the amnesty in place for three to six months at a given time.
“Any country that dealing with gun laws the amnesty is longer than that. At least three months. What is a week? I feel some would turn in their guns but the youngsters want guns so they will keep their guns to go and kill people. They will not give up their guns,” he said.
The vendor added that even though the Attorney General said no questions will be asked, police will no doubt test the ammunition to determine whether they were used in any criminal activity.
“If a man brings in a gun I still feel that they are going to check ballistics on it to see who they kill. If your gun happens to match, they are going to still check you out,” he suggested.
Over in Government Hill, Former Minister of Social Transformation Hamilton Lashley said a gun amnesty was one of the initiatives brought forward under his former ministry and it was unsuccessful.
“…but in this time, it is a necessary medium to deal with this issue of gun violence in Barbados. Yes, I am all for turning in the guns. How successful it will be is left to be determined,” Lashley said. (LG)