We are not a nation with a culture of private gun ownership. That is a fact and cannot be disputed at any level, with any data or research. In fact, Jamaica is a country where a significant number of citizens will immediately express fear and opposition to the idea of increased gun ownership. The reality of that comes from a longstanding idea that we are a violent nation, always seeking to lead the world with our murder rate and guns are the weapon of choice for criminals.
This has translated into the psyche simply saying guns are to be avoided, while the nation’s security forces and private security firms bear responsibility for the safety of three million people. In a country where the security forces has an average active number of twenty thousand, the number of legal firearms being an average fifty thousand, are you confident this ratio of security forces to the population guarantees protection?
In long past and recent years we’ve seen “daring daylight” robberies, shootings and murders carried out by criminals in town centres and main streets. We expect the presence of security forces should offer us some kind of national blanket to cover us from threat to life and property. It is a reasonable thought to harbour, but have we looked at the practicality of that belief?
The criminal element is well aware that risk must be calculated against possibility of desired results for a win or loss, and likely outcome of consequences and actions to minimise or elevate risk must be considered. Unfortunately, given a well-known fact that the majority of Jamaican citizens have little or no form of personal security, gives the element of lowest risk to criminals. High risk exists for homes, businesses, general public spaces, social events, churches, schools. It is easy to see why we are faced with news of the most “brazen attacks” quite regularly.
The public outrage and surprise at two robberies committed in broad daylight against armed guards in a heavily trafficked area would lead one to believe the element of crowds makes it easier for criminals to target. The idea of them being “inside jobs” might only help as far as logistics information is concerned. There are many other acts carried out in a similar manner across the island at different targets with no armed security to think about.
If criminals knew every act of violence would likely result in an immediate and overwhelming response to them, they would seriously reconsider their profession. There is a reason most thieves don’t try to take a cow, goat or produce from a farm when the field is full of men with machetes. On the contrary, a gunman believes he can shoot a man on a busy day in Half Way Tree and escape unharmed with no resistance. There is no threat to his risk, but maximum risk to your security. We need to revisit and rethink personal protection and security and change gun ownership culture from a personal privilege to a human right.