By Phillip Edward Alexander
There is a saying: “Once guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” That statement and all of the pain and suffering that comes with its honesty has been the reality of life in this country for some years now and, if anyone ever doubted its veracity, bring them to Trinidad so that they could see for themselves the real power that flows from the barrel of a gun.
Phillip Edward Alexander is a social and political activist, a feature writer and columnist, the founder of the Jericho Project and the chairman of the Citizen's Union of Trinidad and Tobago
Once again, the idea of gun ownership for the masses or the relaxing of the constraints that prevent the average person from owning a gun (once they are proven to be psychologically sound enough to so do) has been raised, and the arguments for and against have begun in earnest. Driven by emotion and opinion, the debate rages on and on but, while the grass is growing, innocent people are dying due to sheer advantage and the imbalance of power retrograde gun laws bring in a world where illegal guns are easy to obtain cheaply.
How many lives might have been saved or spared had the owner been able to defend it against his or her attackers?
Who does it serve to have the law abiding, taxpaying, voting members of our society helpless and at the mercy of the underworld?
This is precisely why we need the promised referendum legislation, so that the estimated 550,000 friends and relatives of the 10,000 of those slain, robbed, raped and the 50,000 otherwise trespassed upon over the last ten years can not only have their voices heard, but could make a significant impact on the quality of life as we know it in this country. We need to flip the script on this one and fast, so that the outlaws stop viewing normal, everyday people as targets of opportunity.
There are those vehemently against this, who use scary stories of maniac schoolyard shootings and disgruntled ex-employees causing panic and mayhem as their argument and their rationale, but I offer to you that people with nefarious agendas have no problems obtaining guns whether illegal or otherwise and there are few obstacles that can have an effect on the execution of those plans, save for equal or superior firepower.
I can think of no situation that would not have had a much different outcome had the victims been similarly armed and, as a mind driven to extremes is not bothered by rules of conduct in the first place, the behaviour of the unbalanced should not be the rule that prevents honest, law-abiding citizens from being able to defend themselves should the situation arise.
There are those that say that the easy availability of guns will lead to a rash of killings in the short term and, while I agree that we will probably have some silly shootings in the early stages due to the insipid and suddenly brave killing each other over parking spaces and other ridiculous reasons, this is precisely as Darwinian as we want to be. Do we really need these fools breeding if they can’t control their temper long enough to know that a parking space is not worth a life?
As callous as that sounds, this one is worse. We desperately need more “Armed Bandit Slain During Robbery” headlines in our newspapers and more graphic pictures of the aftermath of an attempted “invasion gone bad,” complete with the would be attacker making his last mark on the earth surrounded by chalk outline in our nightly news. Make no mistake, this will cause a significant drop in the current wave of violent attacks and would send a very clear message to those to whom crime is a way of life -- find another source of income.
In my most honest opinion, if those that are paid and sworn to protect us from the gun-toting underworld class cannot protect us, then the government should at least have the compassion to allow us to protect ourselves. By giving the public a fighting chance in the face of armed danger, bandits and outlaws may be forced to think twice about their chosen career path.
It is my firm belief that this can make a serious difference and cause a significant drop in violent crime, and until we can disarm the bandits, we should allow the citizens to arm themselves. What have we got to lose?
We've tried everything else...