Just a few days ago, the media circulated what Attorney General Anil Nandlall opined: “AG concerned about decision to grant bail to men ‘busted’ with guns, ammo.” The AG is right on target. I am with him on this. In fact, I was scanning the internet to garner ‘guns and crimes’ stats in Guyana, and very little came up in terms of ‘figures and types’ over the past two to three years.
Like the AG, I think that gun crimes must be addressed with more force. I hasten to point out that Amnesty International explains that “Gun violence is a contemporary global human rights issue. (And that) gun-related violence threatens our most fundamental human right, the right to life.” In fact, we agree that “gun violence is a daily tragedy affecting the lives of individuals around the world.” The stats show that “more than 500 people die every day because of violence committed with firearms.”
Why must there be a serious approach to gun crimes? Well, it is simple; the gun is a great controller. A US crime repost detailed that “A gun is normally superior to other weapons readily available for use in violent crime; even in the hands of a weak and unskilled assailant, a gun poses a credible threat, and can be used to kill quickly, from a distance, and in a relatively ‘impersonal’ fashion.”
I add therefore that gun availability facilitates robbery of commercial places and lethal assaults on people who would ordinarily be able to defend themselves against other weapons.
So, Guyana’s AG is right and timely when he lashes out against a City Magistrate for granting bail to four men found with unlicensed firearms. His reason is most simple, and yet very profound. He notes that the decision was “…contrary to the modus operandi, and (more so) at a time when crime is being described as a “serious problem” in Guyana.
The details are almost redundant, and concern “…four males, one of whom was found with a 9mm Glock pistol in his crotch, and another three who were found with a .32 Taurus pistol and two matching rounds under the driver’s seat of a vehicle they were in.”
What is scary is not only what were the possibilities inhering in this assembly of men with guns, but what had possibly already taken place. There is no way we can ascertain what occurred before one is caught with a gun, namely the robbing of compliant and scared citizens, who were forced into yielding.
The other shocking thing is that of the sum for bail- a mere pittance it was. Reading that “Magistrate Sherdel Isaacs-Marcus granted the defendants bail in the sum of $200,000 each” is almost like a collusion and endorsement.
The AG rightfully fulminated that “To assert that crime is a serious problem in our country may be putting it mildly. To not recognise that gun-related crimes threaten the safety of every citizen would be a forbearance in naivety.” So, I invite my readers to go back and read my opening. The AG is in tandem with a universal seriousness about gun crimes. Yet, here we are, finding a discordant magistrate who is seemingly oblivious of reality, or incapable of understanding what ‘condign’ penal codes are about.
Nandlall, as is his wont, proffered the rationale for his views. He cited the law, “Under Sections 16, 37 or 38 of the Firearms Act, (where) no one shall be admitted to bail unless the prosecution has had an opportunity to intervene, and unless there are ‘special reasons’ for admitting the person to bail, which shall be recorded in writing, and the trial shall be within reasonable time.”
He added that “…there is nothing in the news narrative to suggest the presence of ‘special reasons’ which would have rendered the defendant’s admission to bail.”
So, rightfully, “…as the Executive Officer of the State, under whose responsibility the Justice Sector falls, it is possible for him to relate to the public’s concern and criticism, as well as the negative impact the decision by the Magistrate may have on the morale of law enforcement agencies.
“Perhaps the State may (‘must’, I say) soon have to resort to the extreme measure of subjecting like decisions of Magistrates to judicial review in the High Court, and lodge complaints with the Judicial Service Commission.”
I remind the public that as at November 2020, there began an audit into the Guyana Police Force (GPF), and, so far, over 100 handguns are missing and over $100M allegedly misappropriated. In this regard, several top ranks in the Force are likely to be questioned in relation to their alleged involvement in the disappearance of the guns.
I can hardly wait.