Categorized | Featured, National News

Firearm Destruction Device Handed Over

In a bid to fire back at crime, the government yesterday accepted a set of hydraulic shears, a high- powered device aimed at destroying hundreds of firearms that have flooded the streets.

 The push to share the device with The Bahamas began two years ago with the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) and the Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UN-LiREC).

 “The Caribbean is one of the regions disproportionally affected by homicides and armed violence of which 80 per cent takes place with illicit firearms,” UN-LiREC representative William Godnick said.

 “The firearms are either trafficked illegally across boarders or stolen from private individuals or stockpiles. In late 2010, the Ministry of National Security and UNLiREC agreed to a series of actions, based on the joint assessment of capacity and needs of stockpile management and destruction, as a part of our shared commitment to implement the UN’s programme of action on small arms.”

 The hydraulic shears have the capacity to confiscate permanent and obsolete weapons.

“This action, together with the delivery of 40 international standard padlocks for enhancing security, a strategic stockpile facility will contribute to preventing theft, loss and the diversion of firearms. It will also free up important space for better management of operational use of firearm forces,” Mr. Godnick added.

Law enforcement officials have so far this year confiscated 237 firearms and 4,010 rounds of ammunition.

 As it stands, most murders, three-quarters of all armed robberies and more than two-thirds of all non-fatal violent injuries are committed with the use of a firearm.

 National Security Minister Dr. Bernard Nottage yesterday said a major contributing factor to the surge of gun-related crimes in The Bahamas and the region has been the trafficking of narcotics, together with the availability of firearms.

 “We have seen that firearms have been the weapons of choice for the protection of the contraband during transportation, and are also smuggled in along with the drugs,” he said.

 “There has also been evidence that illegal drugs are traded for illegal firearms, in addition to cash. These weapons are used for protecting turf, for intimidating customers and competitors, for empowering recruits into criminal enterprises, for maintaining discipline and for executing informers. As such, we have seen a direct correlation between the drug trade, illegal firearms and violent criminality.”

 The minister added that while reducing the trade in illegal weapons is a challenging undertaking, the government is satisfied that improved gun registries, the marking and tracing of weapons, the regular destruction of obsolete and confiscated firearms, along with improved interdiction of firearms at local ports can help.

 He went on to assure that the government will take further steps to combat crime.

 “The Government of The Bahamas is determined to maximise our resources in thwarting all efforts to smuggle illegal firearms into the country,” Dr. Nottage said.

 “To counter the proliferation and the violence perpetrated with firearms, this government will introduce a National Firearms Control Strategy. This will include intensive surveillance of our waters by the Defence Force equipped with suitable vessels and aircrafts.”

 Dr. Nottage said the criminal elements have proven to be resilient and creative in finding alternative ways to continue their illegal activities.

 He said as a result, law enforcement agencies must remain ahead of the curve in finding measures “to destroy the repulsive activities of drug dealers and this can only be done by us working together collectively as partners, both nationally and as a region.”

 “We cannot afford to relax in our joint efforts; to do so will be the peril of us all. This government is committed to the formation of a National Intelligence Agency, compromising all law enforcement departments to address all categories of major crimes in our country. This will be facilitated by a sustained collaboration and information exchange between law enforcement agencies,” the minister said.   

“The responsibility to protect our borders from being penetrated with these dangerous goods and removing them from our communities is an awesome one, and I implore them to remain relentless in the fight.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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