42,000 guns, T&T a war zone, says Senator

42,000 guns, T&T a war zone, says Senator
Independent Senator Paul Richards
Independent Senator Paul Richards

(TRINIDAD EXPRESS) – Independent Senator Paul Richards noted yesterday that Minister of National Security Stuart Young and Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith were “turning grey” as they seek to grapple with the crime scourge.

He joked that this was not the case with the Attorney General, who either had good genes or good hair dye. He deferred to the former.

Richards said he was ambivalent about the Bail Bill because he believed that the gun situation was a lot worse than law enforcement agencies thought.

Suggesting that the police statistics are off, Richard said a “credible” study has found that there are 32,450 illegal guns on the streets in Trinidad and Tobago.

Speaking in the Bail Bill, Richards cited an article from the University of Sydney in Australia which painted a “dire picture”.

The article posted by the Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney, which is supporting the global effort to prevent gun injury and which works with the Centre for Armed Violence, found that the estimated number of guns held by persons in T&T both illicit and legal was 43,000.

In 2012 this number was 30,000, Richards noted, adding that this meant that the number of guns increased by 2,600 per year, according to the article.

He said if the police were seizing around 1,000 illegal guns a year, this meant that 1,500 guns are dispersed in the society without hindrance, which is “frightening”.

He said the organisation figures for the number of licensed firearm users correlat-ed with figures provided by the Stategic Services Agency and the TTPS. But while the SSA and the TTPS had the number of illegal guns at 8,000, based on the fig-ures cited in the University of Sydney article there were approximately 32,450 ille-gal guns. “ And I am believing this (Sydney source) more, given what we are see-ing,” he said.

“If we really have 32,450 illegal guns in T&T, we have a significant problem and we are underestimating the scope and scale of the problem. If we have 32,450 guns for 1.2 million people and the level and sophistication is AR-15 rifles, we are al-most into the era of a war zone”. “We didn’t have 32,000 illegal weapons in the country in 1990 (when there was a coup attempt), “ he added.

Richards said while he believed the intentions of the National Security Minister and the Commissioner of Police in wanting the legislation were noble, and while the Bail bill was aimed at a “few”, it was easy for corrupt police officers to “set you up”. “I am still in the process of making up my mind” on whether to support the bill or not, he said.


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