Sat | Sep 30, 2023

Letter of the Day | Time to tightly fortify our borders

Published:Thursday | May 19, 2022 | 12:08 AM


Daily I read The Gleaner and The Jamaica Observer, and seldom have I not come upon news items of shooting, most of them fatal. In today’s news, for example (May 17, 2022), the following are headlined: ‘Man shot dead on Hagley Park Road’; ‘Second person dies in Meadowrest shooting’; ‘Woman killed as gunmen mourns at Meadowrest’; ‘Kingston man killed in suspected reprisal for schoolboy’s murder’. The frequency of death by the ugly muzzle of the gun is becoming too prevalent. The number of murders in Jamaica since 2022 has been on a slippery slope. So far, 534 murders have been reported since 2022. That is more than 100 monthly. It is almost a four per cent raise when compared with the preceding year. Jamaica now ranks number two with the highest homicide rate per 1,000 people in the world.

I am tired to hear speeches from the pulpits and podiums and in Parliament that have brought about little remediation. The gun-happy hoodlums are as immune these days to law enforcement as flies are to Baygon. The Government has tried ZOSO, they have tried curfews, and now the new initiative, ‘Get Every Illegal Gun’, and yet even in broad daylight, fearless gunmen are spraying bullets and taking innocent and targeted lives. What is most painful is that very few of them are brought to justice. Furter, and for the few who are apprehended, there are those who can afford good attorneys to fight for them to be free on either technicalities of law or through bribery.

Sometimes I wonder if the minister of National Security has any clue as to how to deal with this situation. Prime Andrew Minister Holness sounds so idealistic with his platitudinous ponderosities, not realising that there is a difference between idealism and realism. The trust factor among the citizenry is rock-bottom. People fear giving out information despite monetary incentives, because they fear having their family wiped out. I have heard horror stories of police and workers at the station making phone calls to offenders, telling them about reports complainants have made.

How can we ‘bell the cat’ and minimise or eliminate the constant flow of guns to, and through, our country? What is being done to fortify our borders? Are we sure the wharves and those who monitor the stripping of containers don’t need to be stripped? I often wonder why more soldiers are not engaged in real national security. We just can’t allow places like Haiti, the US and Latin America to be using us as a trans-shipment point and providing criminals with fire power. Gun violence remains obdurately high; the nation is distressed by gun violence, and the hearts of the citizens are failing for fear.

I am of the school of thought that the law needs more teeth. Harsher laws need to be enacted that improves upon the Gun Court Act of the ‘70s. Maybe capital punishment needs to be revisited and the Spanish Town gallows reactivated. The human-rights people need to learn that criminals have no rights, and more support needs to go to the offended and not the offender.

If ever we are to reduce the lethality in Jamaica, land we love, we need to fortify our ports of entry, thereby reducing the inflow of guns and the easy access to these dangerous weapons.