Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says the Government intends to strengthen measures to address the prevalence and ease of access to guns and ammunition.
The Prime Minister, who was speaking in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (October 31), said the Government “considers this to be a national emergency and will expand on the strategies to deal with this issue at a later date”.
He cited the rising murder rate, which now stands at approximately 300 above the figure for the corresponding period last year.
He said the driving factors are well known, and include gang warfare compounded by extortion, lottery scamming, drugs and contract killings, which account for more than 70 per cent of murders committed, with estimates as high as 80 per cent.
He said the inability of persons to resolve conflicts peacefully is also contributing to the murder figures.
The Prime Minister noted that some of the strategies that are being employed to address the flow of guns and ammunition are yielding results.
“We have recovered 726 firearms, including 62 rifles, to date, as compared to 515 firearms, including 32 rifles this time in 2016. In terms of ammunition, for the corresponding period, the figures show an increase of almost three times that of the related period last year, moving to 20,491 rounds compared to 7,341 rounds,” Mr. Holness said.
The Prime Minister said that the scourge of crime cannot be tackled with quick fixes, noting that “we must get to the root of the problems”.
“The strategies must establish stability and long-lasting, transformational results,” he pointed out.
The Prime Minister said the Zones of Special Operations is a “whole-of-government response” to crime in a strategic, coordinated and sustainable manner, and that the ultimate aim is to secure the right to life of all citizens.