Widespread gun ownership is not the answer
Stabroek News
October 29, 2001

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Dear Editor,

There are several issues raised in Mr. Merrill Hyman's two letters, 12/10 "The Right to bear arms subject to strict conditions," and 20/10, "The comparison is not valid." First, I am not convinced that bearing arms is an extension to the basic right to self- preservation. The right to bear arms for personal protection is a relatively new development in Guyana that has been gaining in popularity recently.

The fact is that the crime rate has increased exponentially over the years resulting in some invoking this right to bear arms. The economy, communities and the social structure have deteriorated significantly, thus we have a situation that is unsafe for the citizens. Gun ownership will only serve to exacerbate the already tense situation we find ourselves in today. Mr. Singh's statement (SN 20.10.2001) rings in ear, "Prudence dictates that one temporarily cedes one's rights for the preservation of life itself, and moreso, for the life of the nation."

Further, my comparison showing that gun ownership is not necessarily a deterrent contrasts two states in the US, the State of Texas where gun ownership is permitted and the State of New York where it is not. The statistics show that New York State is in fact the safer state to live in than Texas even though capital punishment is also used here as a crime deterrent as well. The fact is that New York officials believed that there was another answer available and are today enjoying one of the lowest crime rates in the country.

In the context of the life of the nation, we cannot just simply passively allow weapons to enter into our society believing that this will solve the issue of crime. We must be cognizant of the negative impact this will have on the budding tourism industry; investments, economy and confidence and standard of living as Mr. Hyman correctly points out. Regarding use or non-use of such implements as the cutlass, pitchfork, shovels and axes in criminal acts, these tools were developed and marketed for a different use and purpose as opposed to the gun. The gun's sole purpose, when it is used as intended, results in severe bodily injury and/or death.

Mr. Hyman's position supports mine in that it is grossly unfair to ask our police personnel to perform their duties without the necessary tools. This has always been my contention, the police officers, correction officers, fire, as well as court officials must be motivated to perform their jobs in an exemplary manner. They must be provided with the best available training, equipment and authority to protect us, coupled with the help of vigilant citizens. Further, he hits the nail right smack on the head with respect to New York Police Systems. The level of sophistication, apparatuses and money must also be invested in the Guyana Police System so that we can live with the fear of criminals thus reducing the demand for weapons for self-protection. Can it be done? The New York Model supports the assertion that gun ownership in not the way to go.

Yours faithfully,

Medrick Yhap M