Senior lawyer thinks murder rate will fall if Jamaicans are armed

Beswick, who spent 23 years in the Jamaica Defence Force, most of the time at the Air Wing, quoted statistics from countries with and without strict gun laws, in putting forward the suggestion.

“I believe we should sell guns to the population.

I am a hawk on this one,” Beswick, a partner in the law firm Ballantyne Beswick & Company, told the Jamaica Observer in an interview.

“You show me a country that has become safer because of firearm laws; name one.

“In Texas, the way they treat firearms you almost have zero incidents in terms of people being shot by accident. “Virginia is the state with the lowest incidents of murder and violent crime, has the loosest firearm laws.

Go to New York, where, if you even stand up too long outside a gun shop and look at it, a policeman comes and arrests you. “In Australia a couple years ago they brought in a new Firearm Act and had an amnesty.

Everybody was bringing in all their firearms. The murder rate went up 10 times in 18 months. Violent crimes skyrocketed, and still, they won’t back off.

Show me a country where the introduction of firearm laws has resulted in a reduction of crime,” Beswick insisted. Jamaica has been grappling with a high crime rate for the past four decades.

With one of the highest murder rates in the Western Hemisphere, countless strategies adopted by successive governments have not helped to stop the flow of blood, with an average of over 1,000 people dying violently each year over the last 10 years.

The gun was the dominant weapon in the vast majority of incidents. Jamaicans are also viewed as being short-tempered, or having short fuses which can ignite from even simple incidents.

How then, the Observer asked, would the opening up of access to guns help in reducing tension and cutting gun-related crimes?

Beswick responded with zip.

“I know that they will say ‘oh they will shoot each other over a traffic accident’, but right now they are stabbing each other over traffic accidents.

You cannot convince me that there is enough on the side of restricting firearms in a country where it is already the case where I take two years to get it and a criminal goes down the road and gets one in 15 minutes.

At that point in time I say we have to draw a line in the sand and say, you know what, we need to flood this country with guns. Do you know why criminals do what they do?

Three words – because they can,” Beswick said. Citing an incident that occurred in the West Rural St Andrew community of Smokey Vale during the mid-1980s, Beswick said that such a situation was a clear example of what could happen when the residents are armed and co-operate with one another. “When a criminal bucks up a barrage of shots he doesn’t like that.

Twenty-seven years ago four gunmen went up to Smokey Vale, and in one house up there everybody and them auntie had a shotgun or a gun.

The gunmen actually went into a house, shot somebody and killed a dog and an alarm was raised and at least two or three neighbours started shooting at them.

One little old woman pushed her shotgun through the window and hit one, wounding him. They ran into another man’s house, even the one who was shot.

The house owner finished off the one who was shot, killed another one, the third one was torn apart by the dogs, and the fourth one got a couple shots from somebody else and fortunately he lived… fortunately, because he survived to tell the rest of the gunmen of like mind.

“When we as lawyers win cases at the Appeal Court, for example, we celebrate and spread the word among our colleagues. One of the gunmen needs to go and tell other gunmen ‘don’t go back up there, the place full a gun’.

I have heard that in the past 27 years there has not been another such incident up there. It’s imprinted into the DNA of the gunmen out there — don’t go to Smokey Vale.

“Yes, you are going to have accidents, and what hurts me is when some ass leaves his firearm in a position that his 10-year-old son can find it and blows his leg off or blows somebody’s head off.

That hurts us all, no question about it, because then, everybody in the world, every liberal, will jump up and say you need to get rid of the guns. But then, whom do we leave with the guns? Police and gunmen? I don’t feel safe. Every country in the world with firearm restrictions that have tightened up those restrictions, have shown increases in crime and murders,” Beswick emphasised.


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