Widespread issue of guns is not the answer to crime
Stabroek News
October 12, 2001

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Dear Editor,

I refer to Mr. Rakesh Rampertab's letter (l0.l0.200l) [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] in which he disagrees with the editorial of Sept. 6, regarding gun availability.

Mr. Rampertab's position echoed that of Cheddi Jagan Jr. (16.6.2001) where Mr Jagan suggested that all law abiding citizens should be issued licenses for gun ownership. Mr Rampertab suggests that having a gun for protection and some training will be the magic formula to prevention from becoming a crime victim. He, like Mr Jagan seem to believe that having

guns will be the answer to crime, in fact it's quite the opposite.

I have stated in my response (19.6.2001) that criminals do and will always get their weapons from those who are legally allowed to have them. This is so because of criminal activities such as burglaries and robberies of homes and vehicles and persons, this is a simple fact. Case in point, I remembered reading that an 11 year old girl was assaulted on her first visit to Guyana even though one of her relatives did have and brandished a gun. This gun was subsequently taken away from the family member by the attackers. Where is this licensed gun, issued to a creditable and reputable citizen now?? In the hands of a criminal doing God knows what to God knows who.

I also stated that there are legal, social, moral, political as well as racial ramifications in the use of force for self defense. In the above case, is this creditable and reputable citizen responsible and therefore, liable for the damage done by this gun now that it's in the hands of criminals? Did this legal gun carrier meet his social and legal obligations to take care, custody and control of this weapon? And finally, is he morally responsible for tracking and having the gun returned to him now that he has lost it?? Clearly this citizen was faced with a clear and present danger of life and limb, had a right to defend himself and had the means to do so, so what happened? In essence, he gave his sophisticated licensed weapon to the criminal elements.

There is also a reference that Guyana is not a normal society. Can Mr. Rampertab educate us where a normal society exists. Every society has its share of crimes and victims, corruption and cries of corruption that are just as passionate as those issued by Guyanese citizens.

Another reference was made to the fact that most crime victims are generally poor. If this is the case then why must the wealthier business people have the need to have guns in the first place? It would seem, given this assumption, that the wealthier citizens are not targeted. Further, business people are just that, business people, they are not gunfighters and the chances of a businessman surviving a gun battle with a hardened criminal is slim to nil. Trained and experienced police officers are killed or wounded daily the world over, defending themselves from these same hardened criminals. In fact, if studied carefully, research will show that more police officers are harmed than criminals.

Finally, thank God that Guyana does not have a history of accidental crimes, but then again, the US did not either, until the first accident occurred. In fact, the US did not have a history of children taking guns to school and shooting their teachers and peers, until the first incident occurred. In fact, the US had no incidents of citizens shooting Mosques and wantonly shooting anyone who looked like a Muslim. Guess what...they do now. I don't think we should wait until a tragic precedent is set before we all revisit this issue.

Mr Rampertab is absolutely correct, it is time for us all to err on the side of safety, to be sparing when issuing gun licences, the lives we all can save may well be ours, our children and him and his.

Yours faithfully,

Medrick Yhap MBA