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Dear Editor: Gary Griffith got it all wrong once again on licensed firearms

“[…] Clearly, a licensed firearm issued during the period that Mr Gary Griffith was CoP was used to commit the crime of murder, by an individual (Mr Mohammed) who was also granted four additional FULs.

“[…] Why allow one individual to possess five (legal) firearms? How many can he use at any one time? […]”

The following Letter to the Editor on the apparent use of licensed firearms in recent murders was submitted to Wired868 by Louis W Williams of St Augustine:

A smoking gun…

The very loquacious former CoP, Mr Gary Griffith, has once again got it all wrong.

In the recent bizarre murder-suicide—executed by means of a licensed firearm—it was revealed that the perpetrator, businessman Shamzard Mohammed, had been issued with FULs for five (legal) firearms.

Ag CoP, Mr McDonald Jacob, indicated that all five FULs were issued during the period September 2019 to July 2021 (T&T Guardian: Story by Sascha Wilson – Sunday 6 November 2022).

Mr Griffith was the CoP during that entire period.

Former Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith.
(via TTPS)

Lo and behold to my amazement, in that very same article, Mr Griffith is reported to have said to the journalist: “The facts will show in my three years as commissioner of police there was never one incident of a (licensed) firearm being lost, being stolen, being used to commit a crime or being used to commit a murder, because I had stringent mechanisms in place to prevent those things.”

Clearly, a licensed firearm issued during the period that Mr Griffith was CoP was used to commit the crime of murder, by an individual (Mr Mohammed) who was also granted four additional FULs.

Mr Jacob also indicated in the said article that: “[… Keisha] Bostic’s murder was the fourth incident from the latter part of last year to now where a licenced firearm was used to commit murder.”

A murder crime scene.

Why allow one individual to possess five (legal) firearms? How many can he use at any one time?

Firearms are extremely dangerous. A CoP is not usually a psychologist/ psychiatrist. Moreover, even such professionals get it wrong in their assessment of an individual’s likely behaviour. We have seen incidents in other countries where seemingly well-balanced individuals have gone on a killing spree in a fit of rage.

We have also seen both here and abroad where relatives of licensed gun owners have used these guns to commit suicide or, especially in the case of young children, to inadvertently or otherwise harm themselves and others.

Image: Gun play in domestic violence.

There are no failsafe mechanisms to store such lethal weapons. Soon enough also, as has happened in other countries, bandits will target persons whom they know possess these weapons for the purpose of stealing them.

In some other countries, persons with (legal) weapons have been known to “rent out” such weapons to bandits to commit crimes. I do not know whether or not that is happening here. However, we cannot rule it out as, among other things, ballistics reports take a long time to be submitted to the relevant authorities.

In my respectful view, the lasting solution to our gun-related crimes in T&T is not in arming law-abiding citizens with guns—although necessary in some circumstances in the very short-term.

Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds shows off a destroyed firearm during a TTPS exercise on 26 November 2022.
(Copyright Ministry of National Security)

What is really required is the removal of all guns from civilians. Only law enforcement officials should have access to (legal) firearms.

All gun-related crimes—including the possession of a gun—committed by civilians should attract the death penalty.

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  1. Let’s not be naive about this issue. This simply is a case of a bad actor being given the reins of power and that person seizing upon the opportunities present (escalating crime , violence and the fear that naturally accompanies this situation)/loopholes (inadequate checks and balances re. the issuance of FULs) and good old economics fueled by greed and dishonesty. Put simply who have more corn feed more fowl i.e. could buy more influence (FULs/guns).