EDITOR, The Tribune.
Call to mind the times when neither police nor crooks carried around guns with them everyday, and compare that to today. Right here in our Bahamaland, in those days when electricity was scarce and streetlights on lampposts were few and far between, it was much safer to wander around after dark. So, what happened in the last two or three generations to cause such drastic changes? Can we point to exactly what transformed the darkness from outside most of us to the darkness inside some of us?
Don’t get me wrong. Darkness or black should not always be used in pejorative terms, but our common usage of that imagery allows for clearer communication. Here’s the thing. Unless and until we come to a common understanding of those eternal principles of good and bad, right and wrong, actions and consequences, we had might as well not get tired of dancing that popular move; one-step-forward/two-steps-backwards.
Much like conch salad, peas ‘n rice, as well as any number of other popular Bahamian delights, the various ingredients are mixed together in order to arrive at those special delectable menus. Of necessity in this Bahamian society, we all get mixed up together - the good, the bad, and the ugly. Back in the ol’ days, good was pretty much what it is today. However, when we compare/contrast what bad was then to what it is nowadays, the gap may be wide and deep. As far as ugly is concerned, well... that’s mostly subjective.
It seems to me that finding the answer to our principal question of “how we got this way today?” might be worth more money than what we have in the Central Bank. Government administrations after Government administrations have been borrowing and spending a great deal of funds trying to right this sinking ship of state, but we appear to still be sinking lower and lower. One of the principal leaks in the hull of our ship of state can definitely be attributed to the pervasive lawlessness of gun crimes that we recount in our daily newscasts. Statistics about those gun crimes might be horrifying enough, but the many residual costs (human and financial) may not figure to many among us in the bottom line of our expenses. National security and personal security cannot be assured with guns, guns, guns firing all over town.
How did we get here? How do we get out? Should we put an attractive bounty out for the weapons or for a good solution? Is it possible to amend our laws to add, say, five years to the charges for anyone found in possession of an illegal firearm - whether or not it was used in a crime? That extra time would be waived if the defendant revealed the person(s) from whom the weapon was received. Identifying sources and importers are key to unlocking the mystery of gun-running in The Bahamas.
Voices of outrage will often be sounded about the fact that guns or ammunition are not manufactured in The Bahamas. Still to come is any mention of where the ones used here come from. We do hear a constant refrain about the culprits in Japanese vehicles, as though Japan produces only one make and model. Even in hit-and-run cases, that’s such a nebulous clue. Cluelessness, like gun violence is now epidemic in this place.
If looking at the progression from our parents’ times to these times, and considering the likely trajectory ahead, we can only hope and pray that the kinds of mass shootings now commonplace in other places do not arrive at our shores. We may put our finger in that slow-leaking dike, or just take no action at this time.
In this modern-day Bahamas, with so many college graduates, otherwise very intelligent people, sophisticated technological devices and various other symbols of success, the vast majority of people have become prisoners of their own choice. Imagine, for instance, our grandparents’ reactions to being advised not to attend evening services, due to it being unsafe to walk our brightly-lit streets after dark. Imagine having metal security bars on all windows and doors, plus CCTV security cameras posted all around the house, yet still being violated by armed bandits in the “safety” of your home.
Perhaps, just as important as that question “how did we arrive at this point of gun madness?” is the question “how do we get out of such gun madness?” Of course, it’s easy to see that far too many horses have already gotten out of the barn, so to speak. Focusing on only one might not seem like much until we consider that lions on the hunt may teach us a valuable lesson. No matter how big the herd being hunted, a focus on a single prey each time will more likely bring success.
Without all the guns and violence to concern ourselves with, dark can be good again, not a malevolent symbolism. We maybe, just may be able to get back to enjoying the wonders of those starry, starry skies, and the cool evening breezes, as we safely enjoy our idyllic Bahamian outdoor surroundings, after dark.
Guns are problems. People using guns are bigger problems. We ought to rid our otherwise beautiful Bahamaland of both problems - by whatever means possible.
September 5, 2023