By Ernesto Cooke – Many questions abound in the Southern Caribbean island of St Vincent of just over 100,000 residents, as to where the guns are coming from after six individuals died due to gun violence in September.
Prime Miniter Ralph Gonsalves on Friday while speaking on the WEFM morning show sought to provide answers.
Gonsalves said the small arms are coming not only directly from North America, but also through Trinidad, Columbia and Venezuela.
He said some of the guns are connected to the drug trade, and some not connected to the business.
Gonsalves said while St Vincent and other Caribbean countries had taken the lead during the Obama administration with the signing of the small arms treaty, that document has not yet gone through the Senate, thus making it difficult to deal with the proliferation.
However, Gonsalves said through IMPACS they have done a lot of work with the United States and Britain to see what advances can be made on the front with guns, drugs and money laundering.
(IMPACS) is the Agency or nerve centre of the Region’s new multilateral Crime and Security management architecture, specifically designed to administer a collective response to the Crime and Security priorities of Member States.
Gonsalves said the authorities have the intelligence as to the movement of some of these weapons, and from time to time along with regional partners able to intercept the firearms before they reach the shores of SVG.
“ You remember when the armoury was broken into in Atlanta, and advance assault weapons used in the military operations were stolen, do you know that one them got to a Northern Caribbean country, not an independent one, that gun was destined for St Vincent, and it was interrupted, we got”.
The Prime Minister also said his government had made changes to a law enabling the law-abiding citizens to obtain legal firearms.
He said the issuance of the licence is no longer the sole business of the Police Commissioner, but it’s now done through a committee.
A firing range was also set up to make sure individuals are equpied to use the gun, Gonsalves said. He said the government had set the framework to provide optimal security for its people.