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