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‘Time For An Amnesty On Firearms’

Bishop Delton Fernander, President of the Christian Council. Photo: Terrel W. Carey/Tribune Staff

Bishop Delton Fernander, President of the Christian Council. Photo: Terrel W. Carey/Tribune Staff

By Morgan Adderley

Tribune Staff Reporter

madderley@tribunemedia.net

IN the wake of the recent spate of violent crime, Bahamas Christian Council President Bishop Delton Fernander is calling for the return of a gun amnesty programme.

Through this initiative, which previously existed in various iterations, illegal weapons could be anonymously turned into designated pastors and churches.

The gun amnesty was in place temporarily during the last Christie administration.

Bishop Fernander also said this initiative was conducted in the past under former BCC President Simeon Hall.

“We’re calling again, communicating with the government (for) gun amnesty, that (we can) get some of these guns off the street, whether we’re getting them by finding them and locking up the persons, or by persons turning them in,” Bishop Fernander said yesterday.

“Because there are some… good parents out there, who will find weapons in their house, and need some place to turn them in, without divulging who they are.

“We’re going to volunteer some of our pastors and churches to be that place. Where they can come and give guns in and we can turn (them) into the powers that be.”

Bishop Fernander added that he has personally had guns turned into him, and in turn gave those weapons to the police.

The BCC president added that specific churches would be designated for this purpose, as opposed to having “everybody” receiving weapons.

Bishop Fernander said clearance would have to be received from the government before the initiative can begin again.

“This is just me putting forward that we’re willing to do that again,” he said.

Since June 5, there have been nine fatal shootings, including the killing of seven-year-old Camron Cooper who was hit by a stray bullet just outside his home when he was on his way to school. On June 12, a shooting on Cox Street left one man dead and another in hospital.

Yesterday afternoon, police press liaison officer, Superintendent Shanta Knowles confirmed that the injured victim is still in critical condition.

In terms of the investigation, Supt Knowles said police have been working that area “all day.” She added that police are still asking for public assistance in the matter.

Bishop Fernander also called for community involvement in the fight against crime.

“Unless we step up and truly become our neighbour’s (keepers), this wave of crime will take us to a place where we will maybe become a police state where we will lack some of the liberties we have right now; if we don’t become more community minded, more involved in what’s going on in our society,” he said.

“Crime is a symptom of a bigger problem, and it’s through this engaging that we can maybe start combatting some of the social ills that we have.”

He said BCC is part of the National Crime Watch Programme, with one of the BCC’s vice-presidents sitting on the committee.

Bishop Fernander said he has seen “first-hand” that police have put out more manpower.

“But it is now time for us as a society, one of the things we hear, in particular the meeting I went to, is after events happen, people make mention: I saw this car pass three times, or it was suspicious in our neighbourhood,” he said.

“If we can get involved with the crime watch and send this information out before a robbery takes place, before murders take place, we can do a better job of helping the police and even policing our communities.”

The BCC president added that the council is praying for the families of crime victims.

To the public, he said: “We ought to be prayerful and cautious. Be aware of your surroundings, be aware of suspicious behaviour. And now is the time if you see something, say something.”

Comments

Dawes 3 days, 16 hours ago

If only one gun is handed in it will be worth it. Government should do this just to get some of them off the streets.

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PastorTroy 3 days, 14 hours ago

Sounds like a good idea, however, long-term? it's toothless. Poverty equals crime.

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John 3 days, 13 hours ago

If someone wants a gun, they will take the trouble and the expense of going out and getting one. If someone decides they no longer want to be in possession of an illegal firearm, they will take the necessary steps to get rid of it. Of course, if one is caught in possession of a firearm while attempting to get rid of it, the excuse that he 'was going to get rid of it', may not be sufficient to avoid prosecution. And of course one doesn't want to dispense of weapons in a way that they get into the wrong hands. Amnesty programmes require trust on both parts of the person turning in the weapon and the persons receiving it. If some compensation, monetary or other, is offered, persons may turn in several weapons to receive the rewards, but will still keep a weapon or more than one.

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Aegeaon 3 days, 13 hours ago

How's that going to work?

Does anyone realize that the lucrative drug war and gun-running business is better than being screwed over in the regular workplace. I mean, what's the bet that some drug dealers have a military armory in their house, drives muscle cars and sport cars, friends with wealthy smugglers and having a upper-class house of their own. In their logic, why should they give up that lifestyle? Why we see the police and OPBAT failing to reduce the amount of gangs benefiting from this war.

This is, yet again. Pathetic. Tourism is under risk, yet they refuse to save the industry at any cost.

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bogart 3 days, 11 hours ago

...dats what causing the problem....too many sorrowfull pastors....sorrowing for these plain wutless no good....criminals.... .. Dey needin to stop the protecting these wutless ....people..annd do the Church work....teach the Ten Commandments...to dese children so dey dont stray fron the path get out of politics and let the darn law punish dese criminals....if yinna pastors want to be politicians get out of the church robes....shameful if yinna aint know by now on serving two masters !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.

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Truism 3 days, 8 hours ago

I really believe the Christian Council should put out an APB for Jesus. He's really been missing for so long now from The Commonwealth of The Bahamas that we should be able to go to court and declare him legally dead.

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jamani2 2 days, 14 hours ago

No, time for tough laws against the possession of illegal guns and the peddling of such weapons. Give life sentences for the illegal possession of guns and watch them give up their source/sources. Then pop the neck of anyone supplying illegal weapons in and to our country.

The same should apply to human trafficking.

As judge Judy says, no one should be rewarded for criminal activity. The people turning in guns for money don't have clean hands.

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Truism 2 days, 7 hours ago

Pop what? When? Stop talking poppycock.

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