For the first time in recent memory the security forces appear to be having the upper hand against the criminal elements in the society, thanks to the recent police-military operations in West Kingston and the associated state of emergency in Kingston and St Andrew.

The putting down of the West Kingston insurrection has dealt a major psychological blow to criminal gangs throughout the country. It is quite heartening to see the number of alleged gang leaders and their associates who have surrendered to the police.

While I laud the security forces for their efforts so far, Jamaica will not be safe until we are able to reduce the weapons of destruction from the streets. The sad truth is that there are more guns and ammunition in some communities than drills, saws, sewing machines and other tools of trade. There must be an all out effort to get the illegal guns and ammunition from the streets.

The time is ripe for a gun amnesty now that that the security forces have stamped their authority and have driven fear in the criminal world. Justices of the peace, pastors, lawyers, members of parliament, councilors and other community leaders should be asked to play a leading role in the amnesty.

At the same time, every effort should me made to prevent the guns for coming in the country. A critical variable in getting the illegal weapons from the streets is the provision of meaningful alternatives to the ‘shottas’ and the state providing the legitimate safety and security to communities.

Let us strike the iron while it is still hot, let’s call in the guns.

Orville Plummer

Categories: Letters

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