Where are all the guns coming from?
Stabroek News
May 9, 2002

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Dear Editor,

It is becoming difficult to discern whether Guyana has been transformed to a little New York or Miami by the frequent "drive by shootings", police shootings and robberies, as reported in the Guyana Chronicle and Stabroek News.

The most recent report was the untimely death by "drive by shooting" of Mr. Mark Sancho, whom I met briefly in New York. This shooting confirms the position taken by some of us about the proliferation of guns. Somehow, I have not seen, lately, any educated guesses about how safe guns will make the society. As reported in the press, many guns are being placed in the hands of criminals as they stumble onto them during a crime spree.

The legal gun owners seem to be caught with their guns holstered, and very rarely are these legal guns used to foil a crime. Legal gun owners are relieved of their weapons, with some degree of frequency as crimes are committed against their person.

Maybe the lesson is learned that armed private citizens lack the initiative and training to consistently prevent crimes by being armed. The question now is, how does Guyana purge itself of the guns in circulation? If an attempt is not made to rid Guyana's society of the circulating guns, the results will be catastrophic. There will be more police shootings due to the fact that the police are poorly trained and, consequently, inept. The police are afraid of the streets as they are in New York. There-fore, the police will shoot first and regret later, as a mode of self-protection, and innocent citizens will be injured or killed.

The public will then protest and the cycle will continue.

The government could try the "Guns buy Back Program" practiced in many US states. This may be expensive, because the price offered for a gun will have to be very attractive to achieve the objective.

This "Guns buy Back" program must include a no questions asked policy as is done in New York.

After the buy back period, there should be in effect a mandatory jail sentence for any one caught with an unlicensed gun.

How are all these guns getting into Guyana? A closer look at the arming of the five escapees shows that they had to obtain their weapons from someone who already had access to guns. If the escapees were incarcerated before they escaped, how is it that they became so heavily armed within such a short period of time? What are these guns in preparation for? AK 47's are used in times of war, is Guyana at war with itself?

The medical establishment is not equipped to handle massive gun shot wounds evidenced by the recent amputations of people shot in their arms and legs. The lack of adequate medical technique means that many people will lose their lives or limbs if they are shot.

There are other far-reaching consequences of guns in the society. Frequent shootings will deter potential tourists and investors.

Yours faithfully,

Patrick Barker