KINGSTON, Jamaica, Prime Minister Andrew Holness has sent a strong warning young men who may be in possession of illegal guns, as well as those connected to gunmen, to cease and desist, or face grim consequences.
In a statement on Friday, the Prime Minister said: “My message today is directed to the many young men who have illegal weapons in their possession; who hide these weapons or as they say, “lock them”; who sell them or rent them; who carry them or courier them; who use them; the shottas; those who hang around the gunmen; and the girlfriends; baby mothers; sisters and mothers, who give them cover and protection. Take careful note of the actions to recover guns so far, including the arrest or dispatch of gunmen. If you have a gun, we will find it and the consequences if you are connected, will be grim.”
The Prime Minister is also appealing to the mothers and family members of young men who have illegal guns, to talk to their sons, to warn them and to discourage them from criminal behaviour.
The Prime Minister said, “Help them to give up the gun. Get rid of it, tell us where it is and let us find it and get it out of your life. There are many youths who are victims of the circumstances in which they were born and are only acting the part, following a script already written for them. This mindless, fatalistic view of being bound by the circumstances, is destroying our society. Being poor, being jobless, being marginalized is no excuse for having an illegal gun.”
The Prime Minister said he is giving advance notice to those who would want to use or be associated in any way, with illegal guns.
He said: “I know that in many communities, illegal guns are a part of life, a part of our culture and many, especially our young men don’t see them as illegal or even a danger. They see the gun as a means of empowerment, while some wise youth choose education as their tool of empowerment and earning respect. Some youth, unfortunately, choose the gun as their route to getting respect and money.”
Noting that the social factors that have embedded this approach in the minds of our young men cannot be ignored, the Prime Minister said:
“Unfortunately, over the years, we, the society, have excused the possession of an illegal gun as a means of correcting historic social inequities. We have even cast the illegal gun as an economic tool, a means of livelihood, ‘eating a food’. We have been ambivalent in denouncing illegal guns. We have been sympathetic to those who use them as defense even when their possession is illegal.”
In continuing, the Prime Minister said the society shows much ambivalence towards those with illegal guns, and who engage in crimes, and do not make the connection between criminal behaviour and our crime rate.
(1/2) At a recent @jamaicaconstabularyforce— Andrew Holness (@AndrewHolnessJM) February 3, 2022
press conference, the Commissioner of Police displayed the “weapon of choice” of gunmen wreaking havoc on our society. This is what we are up against, this is what our police officers are up against. pic.twitter.com/9L9cJnCcut
The Prime Minister said, “We look on with wonder and amazement that our murder rate is rising, communities are captured by criminals while decent law-abiding citizens tremble in fear of teenage gangsters who just came out of nappies. We have sat back for decades as the gun culture took over communities and our youth, especially our young males. We cannot allow this to continue. We must break the culture that drives our young men to want to acquire illegal guns.”
In furtherance of his call to turn over illegal guns and to cease criminal conduct, the Prime Minister warned, “I am saying clearly and loudly today, to all who believe they are victims of their circumstances, and they are not genuinely bad people or murderers or gunmen, give up your illegal guns, stay far from gunmen, and leave the gangs. With all that is already in place and those measures to come, it is not worth having an illegal gun.”
The Prime Minister was speaking at the official opening of the Andrews Mews Recreational Centre, 155 Olympic Way, in his West Central St. Andrew, Constituency.
Prime Minister said: “I am appealing to persons who are in possession of illegal weapons to give them up by simply using one of the many information channels available: Crime Stop at 311, JDF Tip Line: 837-8888 or the police directly. Tell us what you know and give up the illegal guns. I wish to inform Jamaica that the Government has already launched Operation Get Every Illegal Gun. Very soon the penalty for possessing an illegal weapon will be significantly increased.”