Grant Says Govt. Needs To Move On Weapons Tracing

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“Gun crimes have spiralled out of control…”

Basseterre,St.Kitts – Nevis
May 25, 2009

The People’s Action Movement (PAM) Leader, Lindsay Grant, who holds the minister of national security shadow portfolio, is of the firm view that government needs to move with great urgency on the already established illegal weapons agreement that it signed with nine other Caribbean countries.

Grant made this disclosure in what he said seems to be government’s clueless approach to the already escalating crime rate. He pointed out that such approach is important due to the proliferation of illicit firearms which “continues to pose an enormous security problem for all” in the Federation.

Grant said gun crimes spiralled out of control with 68 murders since 2006 to now with the two latest victims being women.

He stressed that the Labour administration needs to understand that all available resources have to be spent and directed in affectively addressing crime and violence. He noted his party’s policy in being firm against the surge of illegal weapons.

The PAM leader underscored what he said is the critical issue of gun smuggling, but homed in on what he described as the gross inadequate resources of the police to effectively address the problems, adding that failure of the Douglas administration in effectively addressing the problem.

Grant noted that the US-Caribbean initiative, which provides for the electronic tracing of illicit firearms and was signed onto by nine other regional governments including St. Kitts/Nevis on 31 March in Barbados, offers benefits, but that it also “raises questions about enforcement and points to what resources are available to support it.”

According to the agreement, the memorandum of understanding which was signed between the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and regional governments provides for the electronic tracing of illicit firearms under a system called eTrace.

Grant noted that with the Federation being a signatory to this agreement, government should be able to effectively address a problem that they have failed to look at.

He stressed that while a number of regional initiatives implemented with the Caribbean have failed to materialise any success he hopes that government will take the appropriate steps in ensuring success.

Grant reiterated his firm view that the Federation’s borders are porous and remains a key smuggling point, noting that strategies must be initiated to arrest the problem with urgency.

Regional governments that signed onto the US-Caribbean eTrace initiative are expected to benefit from an electronic, paperless system that gauges crime guns seized in their respective countries.

Countries are expected to submit, via the Internet, firearms tracing requests in real time and directly to the computer at ATF’s National Tracing Center. The system allows investigators to trace the history of the weapon from the manufacturer, through the dealer to the original purchaser.

Data gained and analysed from thousands of such traces also provide useful leads in firearms trafficking investigations and eTrace significantly reduces the turnaround time required to process a trace request, and increases the overall number of crime gun traces by providing a user-friendly mechanism.

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