North Siders worried about home safety

Ministers reject firearm suggestion

Speeding cars, noisy neighbours and
job training were among topics raised by North Side residents last Thursday,
but firearms dominated the question/comment segment of a public meeting with
Police Commissioner David Baines and panel members.

One man noted that criminally
active individuals in the district know they have 15 minutes before police will
respond. He then asked: “Will you aggressively pursue allowing individuals to
have licensed firearms in their homes for in-home protection?”

Mr. Baines said no, pointing out
that Cayman follows UK law, which has strict gun control.

Community Affairs Minister Mike
Adam and Youth Minister Mark Scotland, who have attended other district
meetings with Mr. Baines, also said no.

The man then asked, “If I’m
approached in my house, what do I do?”

Mr. Baines said police are
emphasising preventive strategies and public awareness. In one recent year
there were 42 firearms deaths in the UK, while in the same year there were
30,800 in the US, he said.

Another man said people he knew
were living in a certain amount of fear. “If someone  breaks into my house and I fear for the
children, what should I do?”

Mr. Baines said he should take
whatever action he felt was appropriate. 
That did not mean having a firearm, he cautioned, because the very
presence of a gun in the house could be a danger to the children. In the US,
one child dies every three days from a gun in the household, he said.

The law says a person can use such
force as is necessary to defend oneself or another, Mr. Baines explained.

Another man, who asked about items
for defence such as tasers, mace or pepper spray, was told they are illegal.

District MLA Ezzard Miller said
when he was growing up most households had a 12-gauge shotgun, and he could
recall only one incident in which a gun was used inappropriately and that
involved a person with a mental problem. He told Mr. Baines and the two
ministers that he disagreed with their position on guns in the home.

Mr. Miller said people in North
Side were willing to work with police but were dismayed when someone awaiting
sentence for burglary gets bail and commits another burglary.

Mr. Baines said he shared the
frustration over bail. “Our objections to bail have got to be put as strongly
as possible,” he agreed.

The recent increase in crime is the
accumulated consequence of Cayman’s failures over the past 30 years, Derrington
“Bo” Miller suggested. Young Caymanians have not been given the opportunity to
develop their skills, so they don’t see the life options more mature people
see, Mr. Miller posited.

He said he had been speaking with
the Contractors Association, whose members are willing to teach construction
skills. Money would be needed as incentive to get young people into such a
training programme, but 10 people could be trained for the amount of money it
takes to keep one person in prison for a year, he said.

Mr. Miller said the North Side
District Council is more than willing to work with the Contractors Association.
The council has already been working with over a dozen young men for job
training, he noted.

In addition, he has asked
government for $75,000 for district after-school programmes to keep young
people engaged in healthy activities.

Mr. Baines said he was encouraged
to know that the MLA meets every two weeks with Area Commander Martin Bodden
Jr. and Inspector Richard Harford to discuss concerns.

The commissioner also promised an
elderly man that Mr. Bodden would check on the noisy neighbour, and Mr. Adam
would check planning regulations to see about business activities in a residential
area.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Section 18(1)(a) of the Cayman Islands Firearm Law (2008 Revision) reads: "No person shall discharge any firearm on or within forty yards of any public road or in any public place except in the lawful protection of his person or property or of the person or property of some other person."

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  2. The response of the Commissioner of Police to these queries from the North Side community should surprise no one but here are a few little facts that weren’t shared with the good citizens of NS.

    The quoting of pure numbers of firearms deaths in the UK as compared to the USA is highly misleading because those numbers do not take into consideration the population size of either country.

    Simple maths show that 42 firearm deaths in a UK population of 66 million equates to about .0006% of the population, indeed very low numbers.

    The same maths show that 30,800 firearms deaths in a US population of 300 million equates to about .0001% of the population; even lower numbers than the UK

    Another juicy little titbit not shared by the COP is that, under British firearms laws, every citizen who is of legal age, does not have a criminal record or record of mental health problems has the right to a shotgun licence; not a privilege, but a ‘right’ that cannot be refused at the whim of any authority.

    In citing that Cayman firearms laws mirror that of the UK, the COP is more or less correct but as to the queries of other tools for self-defense, just about any type of weapon that can be used for self defense, including traditional martial arts weapons, are on the offensive weapons list and are thus illegal for possession in all British territories and in the UK itself.

    Cayman’s citizens need to question the refusal of shotgun permits under British law.

    Otherwise, train to become competent in the use of the old fashioned frying pan, rolling pin, baseball bat, broom sticks etc etc because under British law, you are simply not allowed to use weapons in self defense.

    End of.

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  3. Hey Tunaking

    Thanks for spotting my mistaken calculations; stats should read 0.0006% for the UK and 0.01% for the US.

    The point being made remains the same; for the relative size of both populations, using straight numbers alone is meant to be misleading and doesn’t show the true picture.

    In reality, both countries have very, very low numbers of deaths by firearms and in a country where firearms possession is a citizens’ right, the US stats look considerably better.

    Comparing a state in the USA with similar size and population to the UK would have served the COP’s purpose much better.

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