Readers will recall that young David slew the 9-foot-tall Philistine by propelling a small stone from his slingshot into the temple of the fearsome giant, thus saving the army of the Israelites.
In the Cayman Islands, David’s slingshot would have been illegal. Goliath’s sword (especially if a clever defense attorney were arguing the case) might well have been considered a “machete,” and thus in compliance with current legislation.
Cayman’s weapons laws are a patchwork of inconsistency and irrationality. The banned list includes the obvious – firearms, ammunition and explosives; the dangerous – switchblades, knuckle dusters and billy clubs; and the absurd – BB guns, pepper spray and slingshots.
Can anyone explain why it is perfectly legal for a reveler to carry a razor-sharp machete into a bar on a Saturday night but illegal for a woman to keep a canister of pepper spray in her purse for personal protection?
Last week a 27-year-old American honeymooner escaped Cayman with a $3,000 fine after Customs officials found 50 rounds of handgun ammunition in his luggage upon his arrival at the George Town airport. Summary Court Magistrate Valdis Foldats reminded the Wyoming newlywed he could have received several years in Northward Prison for his offense.
Another “firearms” case winding its way through Cayman’s legal system involves a Caymanian caught with an air pistol three years ago. Circumstances have compelled (the appropriately named) Magistrate Kirsty-Ann Gunn to probe the legal question of whether the CO2-powered BB pistol is a lethal weapon.
And then there was the recent case of a tourist at Owen Roberts International Airport en route to Cayman Brac when a single bullet was discovered buried deep within his backpack. He was arrested and fined $1,000 for what was an obvious oversight.
Has Cayman really come to the point where our law enforcement officers are arresting ingenuous tourists for bullets left in bags, and where our criminal justice experts are pondering whether a BB gun can kill someone?
The cases make for sensational stories in our newspaper (perhaps the headlines should read, “Are we shooting our tourism industry in the foot?”), but we doubt they have any measurable impact on the serious problem of gun crime – and violent crime – in Cayman.
Such sensationalism should not substitute for a serious national discussion over whether government can adequately protect the Cayman citizenry from violent, often armed criminals.
Home invasions have become commonplace enough in Cayman that the issue of self-protection must no longer be avoided. Even the fastest response time by the police is too slow to protect a family during a 911 call for help regarding a “break-in in progress.”
It is a fact that many people in Cayman already own firearms, and not just the criminals and the police, but law-abiding civilians who belong to the Cayman Islands Shooting Association, who are farmers or who otherwise have permission from the Commissioner of Police. As of April 2011, police reported there were 1,556 legally held firearms in Cayman, associated with 922 owners.
To be clear, we are not advocating for a universal “right to bear arms” in Cayman, but we are attempting to rebalance the conversation from the downright silly (no pepper spray) to the deadly serious (how do we protect our families in our own homes when the police are unable to).