Not too long ago, this narrative of aggressive gun crime in the Cayman Islands would hardly be believed. If such a thing did occur, it would be considered a bizarre, out-of-character event not likely to be repeated anytime soon.
Yet, this weekend it only took a couple of hours for it to happen again.
Sunday morning, 12:15 a.m. – Two local residents, a man and a woman, leave the Cayman Cabana restaurant and bar on the George Town waterfront. As they stand in a nearby parking lot talking, two masked men approach — this time, both wielding handguns. They take a cellphone and cash, then disappear into the night.
Looking back through recent archives of the Cayman Compass, this newspaper seems to be publishing many more stories about violent criminal confrontations involving guns.
The conventional wisdom historically has always been that there are very few illegal firearms in Grand Cayman — and that those guns tend to be kept in various “safe” locations, which the bad guys can “check out” (much like books in a library) when they are planning to commit a crime that warrants the firepower.
This assumption, however, seems to reflect the Cayman of yesterday, not the reality of today when guns appear much more plentiful, even commonplace.
Neither can we pretend any longer that gun crimes are confined to one district, as we continue to see incidents occur throughout the various parts of Grand Cayman.
This raises an inevitable question: If the quantities of firearms in Cayman have grown significantly, and more and more criminals are carrying deadly weapons, at what point should we reintroduce a serious conversation about what weapons, lethal and non-lethal, Cayman’s police officers should be allowed to carry (and which officers should carry them)?
We are not proposing that all local police should be issued pistols and shotguns tomorrow evening (much less the citizenry). However, if the nature of crime in Cayman is evolving, so too should our society’s response to it.
Reducing the number of guns and gun crimes will require renewed focus from authorities throughout the criminal justice system, not just the police. Just like with drugs, there are only two ways for guns to enter Cayman — by air and by sea. We at the Compass have received too many press releases lauding airport Customs officers for confiscating bullets from the luggage of homeward-bound tourists — and too few congratulating law enforcement for intercepting Jamaican canoes laden with drugs and guns bound for Cayman.
In August, while levying a fine against one of the aforementioned hapless bullet-carrying tourists, Magistrate Valdis Foldats said Cayman has a harsh regime “because we’ve decided we don’t want guns here.”
The magistrate’s point is sound, but in this case was targeted at the wrong audience.