BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Tuesday April 16, 2019 – Government’s one-week gun amnesty netted 32 firearms and 1,758 rounds of assorted ammunition, many of them small-calibre and old. And while Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith does not see that as very successful, he said yesterday that “any firearms and ammunition that are taken off the streets gives less potential for someone to be injured”.
And the top cop also said he would be paying more attention to stopping illegal guns getting into the country in the first place, as he suggested that corrupt practices at the ports of entry could be hampering police efforts.
At a press conference yesterday to update the country on the outcome of the amnesty that ran from April 7 to 13, Commissioner Griffith admitted that the police did not expect much from the amnesty. He said most of the firearms turned in were small-calibre guns. The haul also included nine semi-automatic hand guns and four high-powered rifles that Griffith said were “quite ancient” but still capable of inflicting injury.
“I think, though, that in itself is some success, in that these firearms, I am sure the firearm experts would say, are very capable of firing ammunition and the ammunition that was there,” he said.
“We had no illusions as to the likely good of the perpetrators of much of the heinous crime we have had for the first three and a half months of the year turning in those weapons. However, we were supportive of the amnesty because…if you are going to introduce more stringent measures to address the whole question of bail for matters involving firearm usage, then I think it is only fair and reasonable to provide likely perpetrators an opportunity to turn in any such weapons that they might have. So, certainly we did not anticipate that we would have been very successful, but we thought it was the right thing to do.”
The island’s police chief told the media that the focus is on “heightening activity in relation to…preventing [illegal firearms] from entering our porous borders” and weeding out any corrupt practices at the Grantley Adams International Airport and the Bridgetown Port which might be allowing the flow of illegal guns into the country to continue.
“There is corruption. There must be…corruption if you are going to have the number of firearms that are coming to our shores illegally,” he said. “The reality is that where there is corruption, there will always be problems. And so, if the system is corrupt, then we are not going to get the information and support.”
Commissioner Griffith therefore appealed to good border security officials to turn in any colleagues whom they are aware are engaging in corrupt practices.
“If you have a few people among you who are corrupt, then you have to be prepared to give them up….The police are not magicians; they depend on support,” he said.