Revealed: Gun Crime - Barbados Today

Special Report by Emmanuel Joseph

Published Jan 27, 2023 | Part 1

Special Report by Emmanuel Joseph

Published Jan 27, 2023 | Part 1

Prolific crime researcher and author Kim Ramsay has been peeling away the surface of gun violence on this 166-square-mile rock to reveal its most troubling aspects and the motives behind the recent surge in crime.

As a proactive criminologist who constantly interacts with at-risk members of society as well as those behind bars, she has first-hand knowledge and evidence that take us deep into the criminal mind to get to the root of the scourge.

The statistics show that the vast majority of firearm-related and violent crime is committed by males.

“Historically, men have been at the forefront of committing crime more so than women…. Men inherently and by their nature are thrill seekers, they are more daring, they are the ones with the more adrenaline rush, and they take more risks and are more at-risk in their lives,” Ramsay explained.

“It also has a lot to do with their socialisation. They are socialised to be more in open spaces as opposed to women, and that has a lot to do with them being outside. The reality is that their socialisation and their environments and being out there mixing with other persons who have similar mindsets, they are more likely to be engaged in criminal activity.

“Then there is also the issue of their hormones – the hormones of aggression, of violence…these are factors that contribute to the criminal tendencies that exist in persons. It’s a combination of factors that, when they come together, you are more or less likely to be predisposed to criminal behaviour,” the researcher added.

She further contended that the gathering of unemployed youth in any one place could spell trouble – although that is not always the case. “It’s not that every group of unemployed men is going to be problematic but that is a risk factor in itself, especially in certain environments,” Ramsay pointed out.


JAN - DEC 2022

Location of Shooting – O

*stats provided by

*Data unavailable for 1 murder in the period of Jan-Dec 2022.

*All identified areas are approximate locations according to media reports.

*Data unavailable for 1 murder in the period of Jan-Dec 2022.

*Location represent area of shootings and not necessarily area of death.

However, the criminologist dismissed the notion that poverty was making men criminals: “Poverty does not make people violent. It is one of those factors that can lead to it as opposed to causing it.” While the data bring the demographic of perpetrators of gun violence into sharp focus, Ramsay rejects any idea that these crimes are only committed by people from a particular community or social class.

“People get confused about this thing about having a lower class in crime. Middle-class and upper-class [people] commit crimes as well. The people who we catch are the ones at the lower end of the scale. The poor, Black, street boy is the visible face of this gun problem. But at a deeper level, the problem may be deeper than race, colour, or all those factors because it’s a hierarchy and the persons that are committing the crimes are at the bottom of the chain.

“The face behind this problem is not visible. The visibility is the end of it, not the beginning. So, I would not say they are from specific communities or that they have a specific look because the reality is, they don’t.

“The lower-class men are the ones that are pushed forward as the front soldiers of crime.”

But at the back, the real army is the ones who do not come forward, who are not in the court system,” argued the author of Murders That Shocked Barbados, The Barbados Prison System: Chronicles of Incarceration, Death, Riots and Reformation, Barbados’ Most Wanted, and Sex, Drugs & Murder – Unsolved Murders In Barbados.

“But this is not a problem specific to Barbados . . . When you unpeel the layers of this problem, the layers are very complex and intricate. Street crime always has a look. But it is like the onion. When we look at the onion, we see the outside of it but the inside is a different look. I would not sit here and say that street crime is centred around the ones you see; they are the sacrificial lambs,” Ramsay asserted.

So why do poor black men allow themselves to be used in this way? “I will answer that this way. A person that I interviewed for a book that I am writing on gangs and street culture said to me this is a new form of colonialism. He said it is the colonialism of gangsterism. Think about what that means. What happened back in the days of colonisation? Who were the sacrificial lambs? The poor Black people. So, he is saying it is happening again hundreds of years later. It is now the gangster that is becoming colonised. And I thought that was a very powerful statement.”

“At the end of the day, our young people who are incarcerated or being killed do not have the wealth to accumulate guns to commit these crimes, but they are the ones who are dying. So, as I said, the person I interviewed said it is a form of colonisation of gangsterism. So, when you look at the parallels, he is the one who is dying but he is not the one who has the wealth,” Ramsay emphasised.

The criminologist then put her finger on what she contends are perhaps the most critical motivating factors for those involved in the current spate of violence.

“At the centre of everything that is wrong is money…greed, wealth accumulation, exploitation.”

“Those are the drivers of a lot of our social problems,” stated the Senior Research Officer in the Criminal Justice Research and Planning Unit of the Attorney General’s Office.

“Our prison is full of young black men – 16, 17, 18. People refer to prison now as institutionalised ghettos because that’s what they end up in prison doing. It’s like a liming area.

“You come to prison for somebody…you get stars, you get stripes. On the streets, you get street credit. But what is it worth?”

 You are losing so many years of your productive life going to prison. But that’s what our statistics are basically saying. But they have always been young, but some of them are getting younger.”

Those at-risk men who are not mature feel powerful when a gun is placed in their hands by wealthy instigators, she noted. “Because they have nothing else to cling to define their masculinity. 

“That gun represents the only power they have, it is a powerful tool and it can make people fear you.”

So, it is a status symbol to have a gun. Also, a lot of them use a gun for protection because on the streets you need to be protected when you become caught up in that lifestyle. You need to protect yourselves because any day you could become a target,” the senior researcher explained.

Skip to content