Black Immigrant Daily News
Prime Minister Andrew Holness has signalled that a campaign will be launched to warn young people, particularly schoolchildren, about the consequences of using an illegal firearm.
“No youngster should say, ‘I did not know the consequence’… Throw away the gun!” Holness charged.
The Government will also reach out to members of the church community to aid in that overall campaign, which is geared towards bringing about change to the island’s worrying gun culture.
Holness disclosed the developments while speaking at the ‘Heal the Family, Heal the Nation’ conference held at the National Arena in Kingston on Wednesday, where he also updated that more than 80 people have been arrested and charged since the new Firearms Act, with its more punitive sentences including a mandatory minimum of 15 years to life imprisonment, took effect in November 2022.
“Already, there are over 80 persons who have been arrested for the possession of firearms,” he told guests.
“That’s almost two (people arrested) per day, and they are going to be facing a minimum 15 years in prison… up to life (in prison),” Holness suggested.
He pointed out that one of the first persons arrested under the new Act was a “15-year-old”.
This, said Holness, highlights the need for a campaign for young people to be informed about the consequences of using illegal firearms.
“The Government also has a responsibility to reach to those 15-year-olds (or) 14-year-olds, who have unlimited access to all kinds of shows on TV that glorify guns, (and) who are misled by gang leaders who hand them the guns.
“We also have a duty to ensure that they are properly informed not to take up guns,” he indicated.As such, he said, “It is the intention of the Government” to launch (the campaign) within our schools because that is where we can get them all congregated.”
Added Holness on the upcoming campaign: “I will be a part of it, to go and visit the schools, and explain to the youngsters the consequences of getting involved in gangs and crimes and having guns.”