But for its air of rhetoric it would be commendable as well as interesting that the Attorney General and the Acting Commissioner of Police declare their commitment to a policy of zero tolerance of crime juxtaposed with enhanced Police resources and implied refinement of legal attitude in the fight against our escalating and frightening crime scene, a scene which now includes a shocking array of gun weaponry. (Caymanian Compass 12 July, 2005).
Let’s test the water. A challenge to AG Bulgin and to ACP Dixon and to LGB Tibbets – ban all guns from being privately held in these Islands; period. If you hold out to represent a civilised society then act like you mean it. For what possible legitimate reason is there for the retention of guns in private hands? None.
Let’s think this through. The only disarming aspect to what follows, its logic.
Allow me first to establish my credibility albeit, and regrettably, behind my anonymity. I used to carry a personal firearm for six years; day in, day out. It was a tool of my profession – law enforcement. It made me nervous and consequently highly respectful of it. Yet I loathed it.
Rules of use
The rules of its use were simple; only draw it if you intend to use it and only use it if you intend to incapacitate your target. ‘Incapacitate’ does not distinguish between rendering harmless and killing. In six years it was drawn three times in the course of operational necessity – three times of pure unadulterated Hell. And Hell’s tool, guns are.
It is a frightening fact that there are hundreds of millions of cheap guns available in the world. The United Nations makes efforts to find ways of containing the international trade in arms, but it is opposed either overtly or covertly by the nations that manufacture and export them.
It is worth keeping some simple facts in mind. A gun is a device expressly designed for killing things. It is a tube fitted with mechanisms engineered to project hard objects as forcefully as possible, the aim being to pierce and fatally damage the bodies of living creatures. As technology has improved – note the word ‘improved’- so the efficiency of guns, their power, range, accuracy, ballistics of their projectiles, and general murderous effect, has increased.
How it works
However, the mechanics of wounding and killing remain constant and are fourfold: penetration; permanent cavity, temporary cavity; fragmentation. Penetration is the tissue through which the projectile passes and which the projectile disrupts or destroys. Permanent cavity is the volume of space once occupied by tissue that has been destroyed by the passage of the projectile; quite simply the hole left by the passage of the bullet.
Temporary cavity is the expansion of the permanent cavity by stretching due to the transfer of kinetic energy during the projectile’s passage. Fragmentation is projectile pieces or secondary fragments of bone which are impelled outward from the permanent cavity and may sever muscle tissues, blood vessels, etc., apart from the permanent cavity. Projectiles – bullets – incapacitate and kill by damaging or destroying the central nervous system, or by causing lethal blood loss. To the extent the wound components cause or increase the effects of these two mechanisms, the likelihood of incapacitation and death increases.
The ease with which birds and beasts and men and women and children, can now be shot into sudden oblivion is breathtaking. If a murderer had nothing but his hands, he could kill only a few on a single outing, if lucky. But a victim might fight back, and win.
So here’s your chance Mr. Bulgin, Mr. Dixon, Mr. Tibbets to stake a place in world history; make these Islands a gun-free zone on pain of significant loss of liberty for those who would otherwise eschew such a reasonable and logical societal expectation. For to be an arms manufacturer is to be guaranteed a rich, happy and peaceful life, free from care. Arms manufacturers can eat well, take pleasant holidays and sleep contentedly, knowing that the money they make from selling ever more guns keeps them well away from the harm those guns do.
But let us hope a small voice – a Cayman voice, perhaps – disturbs that sleep at times, saying that the existence of guns – of instruments designed, engineered, polished and oiled for the purpose of killing things, mainly people – is a scandal, an evil, a strange, profoundly disturbing comment on human nature.
A society’s laws have to be responsive to new circumstances, and one way they can be so is for those who operate them to be imaginative, sympathetic, and themselves representatives of the society they serve. In the nature of things, members of judiciaries are seldom all three at once; and they are too frequently none of the three. It is resistance to change that threatens to make justice unjust, and requires at the very least that the servants of justice should try, if they can, to turn towards the future when they judge for too often justice seems to be a penalty exacted from the present by the past.
Name withheld by request