The Firearms Amendment Bill 2017 is one step closer to becoming law, having been passed in the Upper House after going through the committee stage without amendments, and with support from the opposition benches yesterday.
Based on the Bill, people who are found guilty of gun-related offences will no longer have the option of a fine being imposed upon them, but a penalty of automatic jail time.
Leader of Government Business in the Upper House, Senator Lennox Weston said most the criminal events in Antigua and Barbuda are gang-related.
While saying that there are a lot of productive young people who are not involved in criminal activity, he said it is the government’s intention to root out these gangs causing havoc in the country.
“The people who are killing people right now are hardcore criminals who are in a gang. They are dealing with drugs and guns for profit, they have mothers, fathers, girlfriends, husband and partners who know, and they have a responsibility to talk, especially the parents, especially those who are benefitting from it; and I want to tell them that if they know and they don’t want to talk, they could also be caught up in it in terms of collateral damage.
“This has nothing to do with confidence in the police force, it has to do with you protecting your friend or your children in their wickedness and evilness, but you know your children coming home with thousands of dollars [and] not working and you celebrate it, that you know they have gun in your house and you keep quiet about it, that you know they are selling drugs…because these bad men don’t keep quiet you know, they boast, they have to always show off,” Weston said.
The senator said friends and family members of these criminal elements are aware of their illegal activity but fail to report them (the criminals).
He said there is a duty to report criminal activities and that persons who fail to do so should also be held accountable.
“Maybe we should be emphasizing that if you know of criminal activities and in the end we find out you knew and did not report it, we can hold you for joint enterprise, I don’t know what the lawyers would say about that,” Weston added.
Weston said once these criminal elements are caught they will be jailed for a long time.