Jamaica’s govt launches campaign to crackdown on illegal guns

 

Kingston – Prime Minister Andrew Holness Friday announced a new “get every illegal gun” campaign with a reward system being put in place allowing for as much as half a million dollars.

Holness, addressing a function at Olympic Gardens, south east of here, said that the initiative is part of his administration’s fight against crime and that as much as J$250 000 and J$500 000 will be paid for illegal weapons.

“I wish to inform Jamaica that the government has already launched Operation Get Every Illegal Gun,” the Prime Minister said, urging the public to call the relevant authorities and report any instances of illegal guns, as well as the location of gun-men.

“Today, I’m appealing to persons who are in possession of illegal weapons to give them up. Give up your illegal weapons using any one of the information channels that are available. We have Crime Stop that you just need to dial 311, you have the JDF (Jamaica Defence Force) tipline or just dial 119. Tell us what you know about the guns,” he said.

Last week, the government announced plans for launching the new incentive-based campaign to reward people offering information leading to the seizure of illegal guns and the arrest and charge of wanted people.

The National Crime Prevention Fund (NCPF), which operates Crime Stop, already pays for tips, but the National Security Council (NSC) last week agreed on the development of another robust national campaign against illegal guns and gangs.

Young men will be the key demographic target of the campaign, which stakeholders say aims to educate the population on the dangers of illegal guns and dissuade people from dealing, trafficking, procuring, possessing and using such weapons.

“There will be a significant public-education component on the new Firearms Act and the penalties that will be applied to persons involved with illegal weapons,” according to a statement issued by the Office of the Prime Minister.

“Additionally, it was agreed [at last week’s meeting] that significant incentives should be provided to the public to share information leading to the recovery of illegal weapons.”

In 2019, Crime Stop received 1 020 tips and 679 in 2020, which resulted in total payments of J$14 million

The announcement by Holness came less than 24 hours after law enforcement authorities seized 13 guns, including ten high-powered rifles during an operation in Trelawny.

The police said two sub-machine guns and a pistol were also found and that a man, identified as Kevin Carpenter, was killed during the operations.

Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson said Thursday’s operations were part of an islandwide clampdown on “guns, gunmen and gangs”.

“Gunmen are moving uptown. They have acquired wealth and are living in gated communities. This is why it is important for persons, even in upscale communities, who see strange activities or persons, to provide information to the police. Even with our improving intelligence capabilities, we need you help to find them,” he said.

Jamaica recorded 1 463 murders last year and has registered more than 112 murders so far this year. (CMC)

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