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Gun crime and punishment

| 07/02/2017 | 27 Comments

Cayman News ServiceBlue Iguana writes: In all the media in the Cayman Islands one troubling theme emerging as a recurrent headline lately is the illegal possession of unlicensed firearms on our shores. What remains notably conclusive is that clearly civilians aren’t the only ones engaging in this particular criminality; even stay-over visitors to these islands have had firearms detected and intercepted at the Owen Roberts International Airport and, more recently, at the Charles Kirkconnell International Airport on the Brac

Some might argue that more punitive measures are requisite to meaningfully manage and curtail firearm possession and importation, whereas others might say that laxer regulations could potentially lower local gun crime.

Neither assertion, however, will serve as the focus of this commentary. Instead, I wish to make it abundantly clear that, with respect to custodial sentencing on firearm-related offenses, our “esteemed guests”, or stay-over visitors, are inexplicably the recipients of preferential treatment once summoned before a magistrate.

Now, let’s iron out some fundamental facts. Firstly, as outlined in the firearms law, once culpability has been unequivocally established, the judiciary can impose a minimum of ten years imprisonment for those possessing a firearm without a valid licence. Secondly, whoever contravenes this law could alternatively pay a fine of one hundred thousand dollars.

Thirdly, as CNS recently reported, Cayman judges have never imposed a mandatory minimum sentence for unlawful possession of a firearm to any visitor since the law took effect. Fourthly, had it been one of our own countrymen abroad committing the same offense in the US, no magistrate would ever deviate from his or her impartiality to allow a convicted Caymanian to escape with a petty monetary fine because of ignorance of the law. Hypothetically, the foreseeable fate would be time behind bars.

Given that customs officers are reportedly observing these offenses with regularity, why are we not replicating the same reality here in our judiciary towards non-residents?

In my view, the lack of knowledge regarding a foreign country’s firearm laws is neither an adequate defense nor a plausible excuse to dodge incarceration. If the judiciary opts to prosecute both residents and visitors alike, the existing legislation must be applied uniformly.

No exceptions. Period.

With that said, legislators should amend the law and make it such that visitors are no longer gifted the luxury of an easy escape card. Doing so would signal a stern message to residents and visitors that the judiciary does not discriminate, whoever comes before the courts.

To my understanding, there’s yet to be a court case in which a local has been found guilty of illegal possession and has been solely imposed a fine as opposed to a taxpayer-funded vacation to HMP Northward.

Even if there was such an instance, what criteria must be satisfied in order for a resident to pay the prescribed financial penalty? The law as it stands now fails to provide a list of the conditions under which a magistrate can impose a settlement in lieu of jail-time. The former is seemingly more commonplace among nonresident American visitors, whereas the latter appears more customary for Caymanians or residents.

Questions remain and hopefully some answers can be gained.

Tags:

Category: Crime, Viewpoint

Comments (27)

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  1. Diogenes says:

    Here’s another recurring theme in the Cayman Islands. Hit and run drivers. Bit of differential treatment there too – perhaps Blue Iguanas could get excited about that since it’s a clear example of punishment ( or even conviction) being way different depending on where you are from or who you work for. Lot more people killed or seriously hurt in those cases than anyone being endangered or hurt by a tourist leaving ammo in their bag.




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  2. Sunrise says:

    It is a bit frustrating to see how the gun control laws are applied here, however, we cannot ignore they are different situations, and I am sure that is what the judges are basing their sentencing on. We have to concentrate on the guns that is being used on Island. How can you compare someone forgetting ammunition in their luggage, to someone having possession of an unlicensed firearm to commit serious crimes? What we have to do here is concentrate on how we can stop this stupid, senseless, gun crimes on our little islands!! We have to get to our youths and start intervening in the early years. We have to educate, educate, educate. This is the way for any country forward is to concentrate on proper education. We cannot point fingers at another situation, when ours are worse!!!




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  3. Robert . says:

    People that want to visit Cayman can read these postings and say to themselves ? hey I now know how to get back at the wife / husband , just throw a couple of bullets in their baggage , and go through customs separate from them. lol . So sorry honey , but the law is the law , and you should Not have carried weapons , See you 7 years , God Bless , I will send money monthly for your jail needs . I Love you .




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  4. Welwhatthen says:

    This article isn’t just poorly researched (it is not correct to say that the extreme mitigating factors in such cases, such as ignorance of the law wouldn’t be taken into account by a sentencing court in the US) it is dangerously deluded. The three purposes of sentence are punishment, deterrence and rehabilitation. Punishing someone to 7 – 10 years’ imprisonment in circumstances where they pose little or no threat to society and have hurt no one would be an inhumane and cruel thing for the state to do. Deterrence is irrelevant where the individual is utterly unaware of the law, and clearly there is no recidivist behaviour to rehabilitate. Or in other words the sentences, on any reasonable analysis, are more or less correct.




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    • Anonymous says:

      My God this is why people all over the world is starting to hate or distrust white people what make you so different than anyone else.
      Please open your eyes who the hell are you God? please get a grip are you going to wait until the whole world hate you, wake up.




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  5. Anonymous says:

    I don’t believe that it is necessary for the Cayman residence to pay for housing a tourist for several months or years because of a stray bullet, however,the monetary fines imposed need to be increased 20 fold as the Cayman residence should also not have to pay for the time spent by RCIP and Court etc to lay the charges because of ignorant tourists not knowing what they are bringing to the Island. Once the fine has been settled, the tourist should be free to leave the jurisdiction.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Why don’t we just put up a couple $50 signs at HM Customs instructing dummies with guns or ammo in their suitcases of the penalties and options for amnesty before they exit the hall. Wouldn’t that be preferable to creating all of the other negative energy? HM Customs could be charging a warehouse fee on hundreds of undeclared loaded guns that likely come in each year in checked baggage.




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      • Diogenes says:

        Except most of these cases involve forgotten ammunition, when they used the bag for transporting ammunition perfectly legally then made the mistake in using it as holiday luggage without x rating it first for a round that got lost in the lining. They are not going to magically remember there is a stray bullet at the bottom of their bag because you put up a sign.

        Blue Iguanas point is that the law IS being applied differently. He’s right on that even though he seems oblivious to the difference in the risk to society between a legal firearms holder who has lost a bullet bin their bag and doesn’t know its there and the gang banger with his illegal gun hidden under his bed. The better answer may be to change the law to allow for the range of criminal intent rather than drag the idiots down to the same level of sentencing as the deliberately criminal.




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  6. Anonymous says:

    Sorry, you are way way off-base. The handful of licensed “conceal and carry” USA tourists (see CCW permit requirements) that accidentally/stupidly bring in weapons, registered in their name (and/or ammo), that commit no crime, and get caught on departure trying to be honest, DO NOT deserve to be ensnared in legal dramas or locked away abroad because a hoodlum drug-dealing cousin/brother/friend/native son (who acquired, maintained possession of an illegal weapon with intent to commit a future crime) got seven years.

    If foolish visitors are not valid CCW permit holders, or gun is not registered to them, then sure, jail them. But it should be clear that the intent of these law-abiding individuals are not in the same category by a long-shot. If being dumb was a crime, we’d need several more Northwards. If you want a better solution, we could modify our arrival’s questionnaire to remind people of the gun and ammo policy and provide some kind of organized surrender/amnesty method.

    It’s just an incredible fact that today, 15.5 years after 9/11, the TSA discover 70-80 loaded firearms (with chambered rounds) A WEEK in major USA airports – some of those obviously get to Cayman by a population that routinely forgets. Sad as it may be, we should expect and anticipate ongoing dumbness in our guests!




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    • Rod Bodden says:

      On till one of these law abiding people take a firearm and kill someone after they bring it in and didn’t declare it. At that time every body is going get smart real fast.




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  7. Anonymous says:

    In addition, the majority of these visitors are allowed to continue without a recorded conviction despite their abhorrent behaviour. Meaning they have only paid a small tax and then gone home. I honestly do not want the patronage of any tourist so careless and gun-crazed that they forget about their guns and ammo. Responsible gun owners know where their guns are. These people are clearly not responsible gun owners if they try and smuggle them across international borders or forget them at the bottom of a duffel bag. There have already been 1,577 gun deaths in the USA this year, including 207 unintentional shootings.




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    • Inspector Clouseau says:

      According to the law in cayman, a bullet is considered a firearm, a spent shell is considered a firearm. The media reports that a firearm was recovered by customs at the airport or seaport when infact the actual gun wasn’t brought to the Cayman Islands but a firearm was found. Makes sense now.

      These people actually take domestic flights before actually arriving here sometimes and the great TSA overlook that but I got to throw away my water before I board the flight and and a makes it here. Who’s fault is that?

      In texas college students are allowed to carry a gun to school but he’s irresponsible if he forgets it in his bag??

      It makes a great article until you actually read the facts.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Errant guns/bullets and their dumb owners are, unfortunately, a current and future reality of US tourism (and air travel).

      TSA Instagram posts daily/weekly summaries of the loaded guns, knives, sword-canes, Bat-a-rangs, Tridents and inert hand grenades discovered at major US airports. Loaded handgun discoveries are up 30% just in the last year…sad but true.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Yeah right. How many gun-crazed tourists are committing violent crimes in Cayman? None. A thousand CI dollars, missing your flight with your family, and having to get a lawyer and a place to stay for another few days is plenty of punishment for negligent possession of a couple of bullets in the bottom of ones bag. Why not focus on Cayman’s many real problems.




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    • W. Earp says:

      There are 324.5 million people in the U.S. There are around 59,000 people in the Cayman Islands. If you can find the number of deaths per year by firearms in the U.S. and the Cayman Islands, you might find it’s safer in the U.S. than it is here.




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  8. Anonymous says:

    Why do you want to make it harder on tourists? Do you think they are the cause of the violence in Cayman?




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    • Anonymous says:

      Tourists might not be the cause, but this carelessness cannot be excused brudda…

      Guns are abundant here…it’s not just West Bay either. They reach these shores somehow, and folks shouldn’t be receiving leniency on the premise of their status as a visitor.

      It’s blatant discrimination. An imbalance of justice




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      • Anonymous says:

        The guns don’t come through customs at the airport. They are smuggled in from boats and in U.S. to Cayman container shipments. Sheesh




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  9. Inspector Clouseau says:

    In this day in age most law enforcement officers seek to have stardom and fame from these arrest. As simple as the fundamentals are with collecting evidence,75% of the time it’s poorly done. And having to be reminded by a Judge is an embarrassment to the department.

    Let me ask this question and hopefully the writer will get a chance to respond if madam monderator allows it to be posted.

    Do you feel that a stay-over visitor with a valid firearm license should be convicted and given the mandatory sentence of 7-10 years even if it wasn’t used in the commission of a burglary, robbery or any other criminal activity?




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    • Blue Iguana says:

      To answer your question briefly, yes.

      Hypothetically, if I were a Caymanian firearm owner, had a locally valid licence, and managed to “unknowingly” carry my gun across international borders into the US, then I would be imprisoned in that jurisdction.

      Never under such circumstances would pleading ignorance of the law based on my visitor status would allow me to escape jail-time. Even if I didn’t commit ant of the crimes you listed.




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      • Justin Case says:

        You are definitely wrong, Blue!




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      • Anonymous says:

        Not




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      • Anonymous says:

        What crap. Licensed Cayman Residents routinely check their personal firearms to USA, UK, Canada to attend shooting tournaments. Not only do they not get arrested, they often win or place in the tournament!




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      • Inspector Clouseau says:

        Q. How many of our caymanian licensed gun owners have gone overseas with a firearm irresponsibly????

        A. None. The embarrassing ordeal would drive them crazy. The fear of getting into trouble in another mans country rides us on every trip wherever you go.

        This ultimately boils down to discretion and the Judge presiding over these cases do a great job despite of how you feel.




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        • Anonymous says:

          You forgot about the police guy that checked his gun in at the airport? Boy you all got short term memory when you all have them. Who s to say these people are not one and same bringing ammo for our wanna bes thugs?




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