July 15, 2000
Much has been said about the influx of illegal guns into Guyana. In the face of this there have been calls for changes in legislation that would provide appropriate punishment for persons found illegally possessing these dangerous weapons and rightly so.
Ronald and Ranjana Williams, other relatives and friends of young Tariq Williams now have first-hand proof that a knife in the hands of the wrong person is also a very dangerous weapon.
The 21-year-old was seriously stabbed while in the execution of his duties as a clerk at the Bank of Nova Scotia by a would-be bank robber, said to be a former customer. Tariq was so deeply stabbed in his back that his liver was severely cut. He has undergone three operations and is to be taken to Trinidad for post-operative care.
It was reported that the dead would-be robber had two knives, which bore price tags of $300; the inference being that he may have purchased them that very morning, just before executing his cowardly act.
Purchasing a knife is one of the simplest things one can do. And there are a number of options. Walk into any hardware/variety store and you can pick up knives for slicing, cutting and carving. An assortment of knives can also be found displayed at stalls of pavement vendors. Itinerant vendors also carry a selection and these include pen knives and ratchets. Anyone can purchase a knife; there is no age limit, or if there is it is certainly not being observed.
Recent reports of school violence revealed that children are taking weapons to school and knives seem to be the popular option. Most likely this is because they are easy to procure as well as to conceal. A knife in the hands of even a schoolboy can turn what long ago may have been a fistfight into assault with a deadly weapon or worse.
School closed yesterday. Parents, teachers, administrators and the Ministry of Education have two months to come up with strategies to disarm weapon carriers. And perhaps hardware store owners and vendors can try to be more discerning and selective when it comes to knife-buying customers.
The police also have a role in this. Remember those unannounced cinema sweeps, especially in Pit, which used to amass a slew of offensive weapons? And what about taking anti-crime talks to schools? Besides educating and sensitising children to the dangers of carrying weapons among other things, the police could also use the opportunity to sell careers in the force, thereby securing a corps of recruits to replenish its dwindling ranks.
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