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Editorial: We Must Work Together To Stop Guns

Members of the community spoke yesterday about the fear, trauma and anger following Sunday’s mass shooting in Ethel Street.

Family members of victims spoke about the shock of an innocent party becoming the target of gunmen. “They say it was a high power gun what shoot them,” said Margaret Oliver, grandmother of the youngest victim. “To shoot all these people? They look like they come to kill.”

We spoke yesterday of the need to clamp down on high power weapons, a concern previously expressed by the Minister of National Security when he lamented that criminals wanted assault rifles rather than handguns now.

Certainly something needs to be done to curb the horror of one partygoer scrambling for cover only to find a little girl shot, “bodies on the floor, blood everywhere”. Or the mother who hunted frantically for her son in the wake of the shooting.

The people who did this are still out there. The gun that was used is out there too. As one, the community of Ethel Street rejects such violence – so who is supporting it? Who could speak out and save a life? Who could stop these cowards who shoot women and children.

They don’t deserve any protection. We hope the police are sensitive to the needs of the community – but also make strides to get closer to residents.

This is a moment to ensure the public knows the police are listening, are our friends, and are just as horrified by what has happened.

Trust brings communication – a tipoff here, an early warning there. We are sure the police might try walkabouts to talk to residents – but that should be just the start.

All right-thinking Bahamians know this is unacceptable - we need to fight this together.

A warrior who also fought prejudice

Captain Lionel Rees faced more than one battle in his life. Some were on the battlefield, some closer to home.

In 1916, he was fighting in the First World War – he was shot in the leg but still single-handedly took down ten enemy aircraft. Years later, he returned to fight in the Second World War – but in the years in between, he fought a more insidious foe: prejudice.

You see, the captain fell in love with a Bahamian girl, Sylvia Williams. They married – but faced opposition in a society that did not want to tolerate an aviation hero marrying a black woman.

It takes great bravery to fight in battle, and follow the orders of commanders. It perhaps takes greater bravery to stand up and say no to the rest of society.

A jet has been named after Captain Rees – and his family members were there to see the ceremony.

He is a man who fought against some of the greatest evils our world has known – and he deserves his moment of history to be celebrated. We salute you, Captain Rees.

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