Joint Select Committee chairman Fitzgerald Hinds' startling claim yesterday that there are 8,000 illegal guns across T&T would have brought more discomfort to a population already troubled by the continuing levels of gun-related violence plaguing the society. Reading from a Strategic Services Agency (SSA) report in Parliament, Hinds said what was even more disturbing was the fact that although the majority were handguns, there were also many high-powered assault weapons among the lot. These weapons, he said, were more sophisticated and often used in gang warfare.
The release of the information comes even as the public is in the middle of a debate on alleged gang members benefiting from state contracts over the years. Profits from these contracts are in turn pumped back into gang activity and guns are a key tool in a gangster's trade. It is thus a valid argument that we may be reaping the whirlwind from this apparent continuing indiscretion.
The T&T Police Service has been trying its best to eradicate the flow of guns into the country for decades. Unfortunately, this seems to be a losing battle since the criminal elements always find more innovative ways to acquire them, fuelled in part by the fact that guns are easily smuggled into the country, often alongside drug transhipments, due to our porous borders.
A gun amnesty was bandied about several years ago as one of the ways of eliminating the guns on the streets. But those already inclined to acquiring weapons illegally are also unlikely to take up this offer. It is our hope, therefore, that somewhere within the SSA's many reports and TTPS's strategy are concrete plans to stop the current flow.
Recruit bilingual cops
Revelations this week of the T&T Police Service's problems in forging ahead with their investigation into a group of Chinese nationals believed to be involved in a sex ring, due to their inability to communicate with them in their language, may have caught the public by surprise.
Given the increasing numbers of foreign nationals who now live within our borders, many of them from South America and Venezuela in particular, one would have thought that the TTPS would have by now either been recruiting or training officers to be bilingual so as to facilitate this important aspect of their investigations.
This case, given the TTPS's claims that the activity may have an international element, may yet be the catalyst to such a drive.
Congrats to Mr London
Fyzabad-born Ronaldo London has joined the list of Carnival 2019 winners after taking this year's Young Kings Calypso title at the Queen's Park Savannah on Tuesday night. Mr London is from a family with calypso in its blood, but for his achievement in doing so in his first try in the competition, we offer him a hearty congratulations.