JAMAICA is known as the reggae music capital of the world. It is also known to produce the greatest sprinters and the most potent natural form of ganja. What is not known is that Jamaica has the standard by which registered gun control is judged.
That is right. Hats off to Dr Wedderburn and Mr Shane Dalling. We have the most efficient system of issuing licences for firearms, and for the accountability of registered firearms.
We can account for the gun’s ownership and legal custody from the import licence, to when the firearm is issued until it is disposed of or stolen. It gets a bit rocky after that, as even if recovered it comes under a different system of monitoring. Despite this degree of regulation, we have one of the highest rates of gun murder per capita in the world.
The United States is the poster child for a lack of gun control, to the point where facts are becoming somewhat muddled with popular belief. I say this because in many states you cannot even get a .22 calibre pistol to buy. So it is not really a national status, it is more relevant in states that support the Republican Party.
However, despite their degree of freedom and lack of regulation, they have a per capita rate of gun murder that is one-tenth that of Jamaica’s.
So, the question is: Does gun control really impact gun crime?
I think the Jamaican system does a lot to keep criminals from getting registered guns. It does not always work that way, but we usually seize the ones that get around the Firearm Licensing Authority’s purge. But does it combat our real problem — the use of illegal guns to commit murders? Obviously not. This is because criminals get guns by illegal means if they plan to commit crimes.
If this is so, why do we think gun control is going to work in the United States? The criminals here have guns like cigarettes, yet we have the gun control gold standard. Gun control may just make more innocent citizens in the US unable to defend themselves.
With that in mind, is this what we are doing here?
The most vulnerable in our society are our law-abiding poor people because they are defenceless. They are defenceless because they have no guns. The non-law abiding poor people are armed with illegal guns. Is it not sort of odd that those most in need of protection are barred from owning guns? It is, but they live in communities wherein they are unable to protect a gun. That is just the beginning. Most do not drive. And the unwritten criteria of age, social class and type of employment shows up in a denial.
So let us ask ourselves: would it really work? Would there be fewer murders in inner cities if there were not existing gun laws? Well, guess what, we have a test study.
Tivoli Gardens for years operated like a State within a State, and they were armed like a military base. Not much crime was committed against residents there. Well, at least not from outsiders. Do you think it is because they had no enemies? No, that is not it, because they were downright brutal to the people of many nearby communities. They were not attacked because they were well-armed.
Bearing this in mind, would our gun control system or any gun control system really reduce the cycle of mass shootings in the United States, or gun crime in general?
Well, there are 300 guns for each American resident, so to create a shortage of guns would not be possible for maybe 100 years. If, therefore, there is a desire to acquire guns for the purpose of mass murder, then the killer will find a way to acquire them. It is the same here, despite our system of attempts to keep criminals disarmed.
You see, the old adage that “it’s not guns that kill, it’s people” has some relevance. We have a culture of gang presence, domination and acceptance. Therefore, any rule that attempts to deprive gangs of arms — though necessary — is ineffective, because they will find ways to arm themselves.
The USA has a culture of gun ownership, gun presence and gun familiarity that will not go away simply because rules will exist to police the law-abiding. It may be worth noting that even with their mass shootings they have a per capita murder rate of about five people per hundred thousand, whereas ours bounce around from a high of 55 to a low of 45 per hundred thousand. Not a very sound argument for a gun-controlled State, right?
As a matter of fact, I think their murder rate would skyrocket if you really attempted to introduce our system of gun control, with the authorities free to seize guns, because gun ownership would no longer be a right, but a privilege. Many who were not before, would become criminals and killers, because they would now have cause to kill. It just would not work there. So, as I always say: “Logic must be the foundation of any decision.” That said, I still think that they should conduct background checks to ensure that people on terrorist watch lists, mentally unstable people, or convicted criminals are barred from purchasing registered guns.
Let us go local. I think we can agree that our current system does bar the most vulnerable in our society from protecting themselves. Now, I like to offer solutions to every issue introduced in this column, but I am stumped on this one.
Because if you sell registered guns to all non-convicts, every conductor, taxi driver and windshield washer would have one. This would result in road rage deaths soaring, and loader men standing off in duels that resemble those of Dodge City.
Our culture, any culture, cannot just transform in fundamental practices without anarchy. It takes time and has to be done small steps at a time.
So, are we to accept that our poor are going to continue to have to make decisions to become criminals if they wish to protect themselves from the takers among them? Or will we work towards an acceptance that crime prevention is more important than criminal investigation?
We have an occupational force waiting to be deployed. They are armed. They have already been vetted by Mr Dalling. They are the privileged owners of registered guns. Create a framework, because many are ready to step up.