PM Harris speaks on gun violence

Basseterre, St. Kitts – In an ongoing effort to speak out against gun violence in the federation, the Honourable Dr. Timothy Harris has spent much of the week of July 30-Aug. 6 speaking to local families and leaders urging them to speak out if they have information that could help crime-fighting efforts. Speaking at a worship service at the Faith Tabernacle Church, Harris told church-goers to speak to those they feel comfortable with in the community if they would rather not speak to police.

“Those of you who know where the guns are hidden – in the backyard, up in the mountain – I appeal to you in the interest of the country that we love, in order to reverse the tide of so many young people’s lives being snapped away from them when they have so much potential ahead of them, please speak out,” Harris said.

These efforts followed a weekend in which the 30th gun was seized by police in 2017, compared to a total of 36 in all of 2016. While this points to increased police protection and awareness in a community, the number also suggests an overall increase in the numbers of guns on the streets of the federation, as the police are on pace to obtain 60 illegal firearms this year. Harris estimated that 95 percent of these guns are coming into the country from the United States, which is the closest country that has a legal firearm distribution network.

Harris said he discussed this fact with former U.S. President Bill Clinton in his meeting with Clinton last week in an effort to reduce this problem from the source. The fight against crime continues abroad and at home, and Harris ramped up his promises when meeting with the press on Wednesday.

To extend an olive branch to those engaging in a dishonest living, Harris took his talks a step further and offered up a guarantee of honest work for those wishing to turn a new leaf.

“If there are any young people out there involved in illegal activity and they want to make a turn, I will guarantee them a job if they are seriously committed to turning away from a life of crime,” Harris said. “That is a solemn guarantee I make. I will guarantee you a job that you can at least earn if you are serious about making a turn for the better. The country deserves fewer criminals, and the cost of maintaining peace and security requires us to think outside the box if we are to nip this situation in the bud.”

Details of this guarantee were not expanded upon, but it was noted that it is something that can and will be done if people are ready and willing to step away from crime. Harris pointed to high price points for new developments such as the new Basseterre High School and argued that paying high prices for these sorts of developments pales in comparison to the prices the country must pay in terms of lives lost and rehab programs established.