Group wants protection rights

In the wake of the shocking killing of Estella Scott-Roberts, a local group is urging people to sign a petition that calls for defensive devices such as pepper spray to be legalised in the Cayman Islands and for the constitution to be amended to include a right to self-protection.

People For Referendum President Dennie Warren Jr., whose group is distributing thousands of the petitions in this weekend’s Caymanian Compass, explained his concerns.

‘We are trying to amend the Penal Code to allow people to have, for example, pepper spray as a means of self-protection and we would like to see included in a bill of rights the right to self-protection, so that legislation would not in effect deprive people of that right any longer.’

Pepper spray is impliedly banned under the Penal Code’s definition of prohibited weapons, which forbids, amongst other things, ‘any weapon of any description or design, adapted for the discharge of any noxious liquid or gas …’

Mr. Warren said Mrs. Scott-Roberts’ death has changed the way people feel about their security in the Cayman Islands.

‘People are making it clear to me they are going to own pepper spray regardless of what the law says.’

He said the public should be able to carry non-lethal defensive devices such as pepper spray because ‘the truth of the matter is the police cannot be there to protect the individual or to prevent the individual from losing their life.

‘The services of the police can have some deterrent effect but it is not going to prevent a violent attack on someone. The police come in once the attack has taken place,’ Mr. Warren said.

‘What I am seeking to address are the options individuals have to prevent the violent attack from being successful in the first place.’

The group’s petition is addressed to all members of the Legislative Assembly, the Cabinet, the Leader of Government Business and the Governor and reads like a legislative motion.

It says the heinous killing of Mrs. Scott-Roberts is the most recent violent crime to devastate and shock many residents into the understanding that a deeper commitment to their personal security is needed.

One part of the petition reads: ‘And whereas it is of great concern to the People of the Cayman Islands that far too many murders remain unsolved and since the islands will never be able to financially afford the degree of public security necessary to prevent murder and other violent attacks against persons, it is only reasonable that residents also be allowed to carry non-lethal defensive devices, etc., especially given that firearms are already permitted for self protection within the islands.’

Mr. Warren said he has been so busy trying to organise the petition that he hasn’t had the chance to gauge the view of legislators, but added ‘we need to do the petition to demonstrate people’s support for this.’

People filling out the petition are asked to return it by 23 November to Project Estella Petition Boxes that will be placed at a range of retails outlets including Hobbies and Books, Kirk Supermarket, Hurley’s Supermarket, all Foster’s Food Fair locations and all Reflections stores. Petitions can also be returned to a number of gas stations across Grand Cayman.

On Cayman Brac, the petition can be returned to Tibbetts Enterprise, Market Place and the Tib-Mart Texaco.

The petition also contains postal and email addresses that the petition can be returned to. Further information can also be found at www.pfr.ky

All residents in the Cayman Islands older than 18 are asked to sign the petition.

‘I want everyone out there to tell everyone they know, to tell everyone they know, to support the petition,’ Mr. Warren said.

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