JANUARY 05th, 2008
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The Ministry of National Security should do an urgent audit of the persons holding "licensed" firearms in the country. GRENADA TODAY is making this plea in light of recent incidents of persons having firearms in their possession and brandishing them to members of the civilian population.

In one instance, an ice-cream vendor from Maran, St. John's was killed by a man from Black Bay after an altercation on Christmas Day. And less than one week later, a lady came into our offices to complain of a threat uttered to her by a foreign businessman who operates in the south of the island.

This newspaper has received worrying information that all kinds of people who would not normally be granted licensed firearms ended up with legal guns in their possession in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

Those in charge of the Police High Command seemingly gave out a number of licensed firearms without the normal checks being made by the relevant and capable body within the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF). The situation in the country after the hurricane was indeed abnormal and some businessmen were definitely left in limbo in terms of protecting their property from looters.

Grenada was virtually left with a police force in shambles and lacking in direction under Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Keith Claudius Mitchell and his handpicked Commissioner of Police, Fitzroy Bedeau.

The widespread feeling that permeated throughout the country was that the hapless Bedeau was waiting on usual for instructions from his boss but that none came since "The Chief" himself was in a state of shock and panic as a result of the passage of Ivan. The business community and ordinary citizens could not depend on our own law enforcement officials to provide them with the normal protection that was so badly needed in light of the amount of dangerous prisoners on the loose from the badly damaged Richmond Hill prison.

It is over three years now since the passage of Ivan and more than enough time for RGPF to revisit the situation of persons who were allowed to obtain licensed firearms in that particular chaotic period.
We have some doubts on whether a proper and comprehensive list exist at Fort George as regards all the persons who might have ended up such firearms.

Some senior police officers have confided in us that they are sometime embarrassed when certain members of John Public inform them that they have licensed firearms. What level of training did these new firearm owners get to ensure that they can properly use the weapons in their possession? A different person is now occupying the Office of Police Commissioner and the current holder of the post, Winston James should look into this as a matter of urgency.

There is nothing in law, which prevents him from taking a fresh look at a prior decision if he finds it necessary. The irony of the situation is that the Senior Minister of National Security, Dr. Mitchell had lost confidence in Bedeau to the point that he took the necessary steps to have him removed as Commissioner of Police for his dismal performance during Ivan.

The PM has somehow regained confidence in the same Bedeau and is now offering him to the electorate in the constituency of St. John as the candidate for the ruling New National Party (NNP) as the replacement for Education Minister, Claris Charles. Is it any wonder that the country appears to be in a state of lawlessness with all and sundry waiting on "The Chief" to make each and every decision?

The norm seem to be reward known failures in public office by putting them up as candidates in general elections to serve in a much different capacity. It is this kind of political expediency that helped to create the political turmoil and uncertainties for Grenada in the past 30 years.

GRENADA TODAY would like to see less and less guns placed in the hands of those with suspect and questionable character. A gun is no ordinary toy but a dangerous thing if placed in the wrong hands.


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