LETTER: No More Fines for Gun Crimes

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

Dear Editor,

In light of recent firearm possession crimes, including the arrest of Judah Francis, Devonte Burton, and Jahquan Davis, it is imperative that Antigua and Barbuda reassess its penalties for such offenses.

The current system, which often results in fines, does not adequately address the severity of these crimes nor does it serve as an effective deterrent.

Firearm possession is not a minor offense; it is a serious crime with potentially deadly consequences.

When individuals are merely fined for possessing illegal firearms, it undermines the severity of the crime and may embolden others to follow suit, believing that they can escape with minimal repercussions.

Drawing inspiration from Jamaica’s recent legislative changes, I call on our Attorney General to implement similar penalties in Antigua and Barbuda.

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Under Jamaica’s new law, which came into effect on November 1 2022, penalties for illegal firearm possession range from a minimum of 15 years to life imprisonment.

This approach acknowledges the gravity of gun crimes and aims to significantly reduce their prevalence.

To effectively combat gun violence and ensure the safety of our communities, it is imperative that we adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards firearm offenses.

This means implementing harsher penalties, such as mandatory imprisonment, to serve as a strong deterrent against illegal gun possession and related crimes.

Jamaica’s strategy also includes a gun amnesty period, allowing individuals to surrender illegal firearms without facing prosecution, thereby preventing potential long-term imprisonment and offering an opportunity for rehabilitation.

This balanced approach aims to remove illegal firearms from the streets while providing a pathway for individuals to lead productive, crime-free lives.

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Given the serious threat that gun violence poses to our community, it is crucial for Antigua and Barbuda to adopt similar measures.

Additionally, steps should be taken to ensure our justice system can handle the increased penalties.

This could involve the creation of specialized gun courts and additional courtroom facilities, as seen in Jamaica.

These measures will prevent the justice system from becoming overwhelmed while ensuring swift and fair trials for those accused of gun crimes.

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I urge our lawmakers and judicial system to reconsider the current stance on fines for gun crimes and to prioritize the safety and security of our citizens by enforcing stricter penalties.

Only through a firm and uncompromising approach can we hope to reduce the prevalence of illegal firearms and the violence they bring to our streets.

The Attorney General must act now to implement these changes, ensuring that our laws reflect the seriousness of gun crimes and adequately protect our community.

Sincerely,- GENUINE CONCERN

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