Gun control must be priority, say activists

| 26/07/2018 | 16 Comments
Cayman News Service

RCIPS officers show members of the media some of the guns recovered during the recent firearms amnesty

(CNS): Local activists are calling on the authorities to prioritise gun control in the Cayman Islands and implement more initiatives and intervention programmes to prevent young men from being lured into gun crime. George Roper, a reformed ‘lifer’ at HMP Northward who now works with young people, said, “Cayman has reached the point where we have to get these guns off the streets at all costs.” He believes that youngsters messing around with guns today are more violent than their  previous generations. Roper has called for a perpetual gun amnesty, a suggestion rejected by the police.

“For a number of reasons, an open-ended gun amnesty is not feasible,” said Jacqueline Carpenter, the RCIPS spokesperson. “Chief among them being that possessing an unlicensed firearm is a criminal offence, and if someone could have an illegal gun at any time with no consequences, there would be little sense in having the law to begin with.”

So far this year, gun violence has taken two lives: Omar Bailey (28) and Dougmore Wright (44) were both gunned down on the streets of George Town. While guns have also featured in a dozen armed robberies, police are making in-roads to recovering guns. In 2017 a total of 29 firearms were seized, while so far this year 9 have been recovered in addition to the eleven long guns, seven handguns, crossbow, 12-gauge flare gun and almost 900 rounds of ammunition recovered during the month-long, ‘no questions asked’ amnesty in June.

Michael Myles, a former social worker who has campaigned for many years for early intervention to prevent vulnerable children from falling into crime, said the number of weapons being recovered clearly shows the community what it needs to know about the gun problem.

“That should tell you how much more is out there. At the end of the day, it’s not going to stop unless we get more strategic,” he said, pointing to the poor prospects for teenagers. “Who’s going to employ a teenager with absolutely nothing, no training,” he asked, adding that the core drivers of criminal behaviour, such as the lack of job training, need to be addressed.

What causes young men in particular to pick up guns is a question that both activists and the police are asking. Roper points to poverty, a lack of opportunity and the pressure on young adults who feel marginalized by society. “They’re just doing what they have to do to make it,” he said, stressing that vocational training is critical because the current number of work permits makes it clear that there is no training anywhere for young people.

Brent Hydes is the operations manager for a halfway house in West Bay run by the Hope For Today Foundation, who sees addiction as fuel for crime. He supported the RCIPS gun amnesty and said he was grateful to those people who did “the grown up thing” and surrendered their weapons. But he said the community cannot wait for government to solve all of the problems.

“We can play a major role when we see our kids that we know are at the most vulnerable stages of their lives. We could do some sort of intervention to try to steer these kids in the right direction. Sometimes we turn a blind eye to the situation because it’s not happening to our kids.”

Criminal behaviour doesn’t happen overnight and can stem from people self-medicating with drugs and alcohol to suppress trauma they might have experienced, such as physical or sexual abuse, that “leaves a lot of kids uncomfortable in their own skin”.

Hydes said that a lack of investment in drug rehabilitation and “band-aid” methods have failed to address the causes of crime. He said more Caymanian social workers, counsellors and rehabilitators to work with children in school and adults in society could help society’s ills.

Dr Frank McField, a former social affairs and youth minister, said people use guns to take control. The gun amnesty initiative was a short-term solution to a long-term problem, he said. “It does not reflect serious contemplation or serious thought as to what causes people to want to express their power or their position within the society by arming themselves.”

Nevertheless, he accepted that the campaign raised awareness about the consequences of having a firearm without a licence and that it gave those in possession a chance to rethink their actions.

During his own research into gang sub-cultures, McField said he found a common root for vulnerability comes from within the home. Children whose parents resolve conflicts through abuse teach those affected that violence is used as a resolution for feuds, creating a generational cycle of hostility.

“The curiosity with the gun is also a curiosity with the sub-culture, where the gun becomes a very important part of the power ritual in the alienated youth community,” he said, adding that he also believes the solution lies with employment opportunities.

While in office between 2001-2005 McField said he implemented youth development and rehabilitation programmes, including a recording studio in central George Town, along with Eagle House Rehabilitation Centre for juveniles. However, his plans to set up a wilderness boot-camp in East End for those who needed more attention to their behavioural challenges were thwarted when he failed to get re-elected.

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Category: Crime, Crime Prevention

Comments (16)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Yes gun control is really working out.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    As previously mentioned, crappy parenting is the main cause. People creating children which they cannot or will not care for. A child cannot be treated like a puppy/kitten and care stopped once they past the young cute stage.
    So once again FREE CONDOMS. Along with eduction on the real reasons to use them. If only a few are prevented every year the cost will be well worth it.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    The problem is the war on drugs. It is not working and is fueling the black market where all the guns are. If you want to drop gun crime significantly we all know what must be done. It’s just up to the hypocrites in power to do something about it.

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  4. Susan says:

    When your hear that our population growth should be 100,000 without any real strategic plan in place we are doomed to fail. It would be safe to assume to grow the population to this figure, the majority will come from work permits, PR and status grants. Looking at housing, employment and the high cost of living, Caymanians that are less fortunate to further their education will have no choice but to turn to a life of crime just to survive. This is a true story.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Or take the job offered at the rate they pay instead of thinking you deserve to be the manager because I Caymanian. Being poor doesn’t mean you turn to crime. Being raised by crappy parents so you never know right from wrong or being held accountable for your actions leads to a life of crime. Free condoms and sex ed for all.

  5. Anonymous says:

    And then ban knives when stabbings increase?
    The fact of young men being killed by gangs isn’t a problem with the guns alone. Dismantle the gangs and you’ll confiscate the guns as a part of the process.
    But as we know, the gangs here too are friends of friends or family members of family members of politicians in the government. Pointless movement!
    RCIPS targeting the lower level guys and leaving the higher ups to continue.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    The problem lies within a society that puts money beyond the welfare of its own people. There are far too many money grabbing Caymanians who have got stupidly rich by exploiting disaster and the poor without making a genuine attempt to put back into this broken society.
    Training is only any good if you have an education system that is well funded and respected by all. Poor parenting is as much to blame as You Tube, ghetto music and a culture of playing the victim against some ridiculous conspiracy thought up by foreigners.
    The problems here are exactly the same as the ghettos of the US, Jamaica and the UK who spread their poisonous gang cultures amongst the uneducated and self medicating.
    Gun amnesties are pointless because these morons won’t give up their only means of gaining respect. It’s becoming cultural and Cayman is in danger of losing its youth to the warped ideologies of greed and self entitlement and an invented culture reinforced by violence, music and social media.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I’ve been listening to “ghetto music” since I was 10, now in my 40’s and I’ve managed not to shoot anyone or even own a gun for that matter. I’ve also never committed a robbery, sold drugs or pimped out any females… I don’t think it’s the music. Crappy parents are to blame!

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  7. Crime watcher says:

    Blame television!

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Until Dr. Frank reveals who shot him, I take everything he says with a grain of salt when it comes to him discussing the problem we have with guns.

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    • West Bay Premier says:

      And the Dr. says that because he didn’t get elected , he gave up the dream of helping the kids and their problems.
      I would say that the problem is big and the approach to fix it is not going to be simple .

      I think that the situation is all caused by the government, and all the laws and things that they are doing that encourages these kids into their behaviors.
      If we just compared the past to the future, we will see that after government started handing out money and taking away rights from parents by law , and allowing opportunities and no enforcement to pass by these kids is the results of the products of today’s problems , which was not in the past .

      I will have to say that the problem of kids and guns and drugs and crime , is urgently needed to be addressed and is not going to be easy and cheap to fix , and it needs to be fixed today, because we’re looking at a whole generation of kids .

      This kind of leadership is not moving the Islands and the people forward , when you have 15 good and educated kids , and 50 bad and uneducated kids for the next generation.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Comment of the day!!!

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    • Not Going Home says:

      Until he tells us where his sandwich board and parrot went to, nothing he says should ever be taken seriously.

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