During last month’s guns-for-cash weapons amnesty, police paid out $1,240.50 to people who turned in their weapons and ammunition at police stations throughout the Cayman Islands.
Despite the offer of money in exchange for guns and ammo, only one real hand gun was handed in, along with 825 rounds of ammunition and three air guns, said Detective Superintendent Marlon Bodden.
He said he was “a bit disappointed” with the response and the small haul of weaponry received throughout August, but said these were weapons, bullets and shotgun pellets that were no longer on the street and could no longer harm anybody.
Police launched the amnesty on 1 July and during that month received two weapons – a shotgun and a rifle – and 144 rounds on ammunition. In August, police upped the ante and offered cash in exchange for weapons and ammo – $25 for 10 bullets and up to $200 for each working firearm handed in.
“I would have preferred to have seen far more guns and ammunition handed in. Then again, we got what we got,” said Mr. Bodden, adding that even though the response was not as great as police would have wished, they believed the amnesty was still a good initiative.
The gun that was handed in last month was a Llama .380-calibre handgun. Police ballistics experts will check the gun and other weapons handed in during July to determine if they had been used in a crime, Mr. Bodden said.
Police, from a donation of $2,000 from High Impact Media, paid out a total of $1,242.50 in exchange for the weapons and bullets handed in during August.
Mr. Bodden said some members of the public dropped off ammunition at police stations and did not accept the money on offer.
“We had those good spirited citizens that did not want to take advantage of the cash-for-guns aspect of [the amnesty]. They just wanted to hand it in and move on and we sincerely appreciate them doing that,” he said.
Among the ammunition handed over was a cache of 307 rounds of small .22-calibre bullets.
Mr. Bodden said that while the amnesty was “helpful”, it was “only one part of the wider firearms reduction strategy that we have”.
Even though the amnesty is over, police still welcome people with unlicensed or unwanted firearms to bring them to the police station and hand them over to be disposed of.
The weapons received in this year’s amnesty will be destroyed, but exactly how and when has not yet been determined.
Guns, other weapons and ammunition handed in during previous years’ amnesties, as well as firearms seized in police operations, were earlier this year encased in large concrete blocks and will be sunk at sea.
During this year’s amnesty, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service held a series of public meetings in the districts, but there was poor turnout at all those meetings.
Concerns over the availability of guns in the Cayman Islands have been growing as guns have been used in several robberies in recent months, including four armed robberies over five days last week.
Two people have been shot during robberies or attempted robberies this year. A gunman shot Medsadie “Meddie” Connor, who works at Lorna’s Texaco in Bodden Town, in the shoulder and knee and stole her purse as she left work on the night of 13 July. Two weeks earlier, Cayman Islands Brewery worker Kemar Golding was shot in the face during an attempted robbery at a jerk stand in Red Bay.
No one has been arrested in connection with the shooting of Ms Connor. Police arrested an 18-year-old man in connection with the shooting of Mr. Golding last week, but he has since been released without charge, police said.
A third shooting occurred on Saturday, 27 August, when a teenager was hit in the hip and thigh with shotgun pellets by a gunman who opened fire at a group of young people outside Thatch Palm Villas in West Bay.