By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
FIVE local bishops “frustrated” with the recent wave of gun-related violence in New Providence have called on National Security Minister Marvin Dames to declare a “war” on guns.
Bishops Simeon Hall, Victor Cooper, Greg Minnis, J Carl Rahming and Ross Davis specifically called on the minister to “lead efforts which would significantly increase the present penalty for the illegal possession of guns”.
In particular, the five religious leaders said in a statement that anyone found importing guns “should face the stiffest penalty in the law”.
The bishops also called on “concerned and responsible parents” to engage in the “war” by not harbouring children engaged in criminality or knowingly benefitting from their criminal activities.
Their joint statement comes after a week of gun-related violence in New Providence, which has seen at least three men killed and several others shot and left in hospital. Last month also saw a number of gun-related incidents which claimed nine lives and injured several others.
On the first two days of February, three men were shot and killed following separate shooting incidents—one on Miami Street of Cordeaux Avenue; one on Rosedale and Mackey Streets; and one on Fritz Lane. There were also three non-fatal shooting incidents that weekend. At the time, all three victims were said to be in serious condition in hospital.
The next weekend, four men were killed and one man injured in separate incidents, with two of the killings taking place roughly an hour apart and just streets apart.
Last Sunday night, 40-year-old Chinese native and shop owner Xiang Song was shot during a suspected armed robbery at his business establishment on Taylor Street, Nassau Village. He was taken to hospital where he later died.
That shooting came after another man was attacked and shot outside a party on Samson Street in the same constituency.
Earlier that day, 26-year-old Jovardo Thompson was killed and another man shot in the leg during a brazen drive-by shooting at the Fox Hill roundabout.
On Tuesday March 19, a man was found dead at the junction of Mackey and Wilton Streets. Officers said the victim was shot while crossing the street after leaving a local establishment.
Then on Friday, two men were shot and consequently hospitalized within five hours of each other. One was shot at 6pm while sitting in his vehicle on Rupert Dean Lane, while the other was shot shortly after 11pm while sitting in his vehicle on Plantol Street.
“Most of the senseless killings in recent times are being committed by persons illegally in possession of guns,” the bishops said in a statement.
“Notably, guns are not manufactured in the Bahamas and persons found illegally importing guns should face the stiffest penalty in the law. Guns are too easily available to criminals and gang members and others involved in nefarious activities.
“We, as concerned and frustrated religious and community leaders, call on the minister of national security to lead the war on guns by leading efforts to amend relevant legislation which would significantly increase the present penalty for the illegal possession of guns.
“We further encourage concerned and responsible parents to engage in this war by not harbouring children engaged in criminality or knowingly benefitting from their criminal activities. Indeed, we commend the local father who recently turned his son in to the authorities for the latter’s criminal activities.
“Efforts to drastically reduce crime must be led by the government, but every Bahamian citizen and resident must participate in the war on guns.”