Unjustifiable gun ownership

| 13/06/2008

The recent revelations by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service
(RCIPS) surrounding the number of legitimate guns on the island and
how they are managed raises a number of questions, not least being why
any law-abiding citizen would need to own a gun in this community.

There are some 150 people who are members of the Cayman Islands
Shooting Association, who test their firearms skills in a sporting
environment and have a justifiable reason for owning some kind of
firearm. However, it seems rather difficult to justify the other 1850
or so owners of firearms here in Cayman. After all, there is no
hunting culture as there is nothing to hunt, and with no grisly bears,
mountain lions, coyotes or even foxes to shoot at, unless farmers have
an unfounded fear of the local agouti turning on them or their live
stock in a shocking unproved, attack, they don’t have much of a case
for ownership either.

In a community where some people seem to be getting their hands on
weapons more readily than any of us would like, it is incumbent on the
law-abiding members of our society to reduce the numbers of weapons
that the criminal element could get hold of. The recent incident
involving one so-called legitimate gun owner whose weapon just went
missing, demonstrates clearly the problem of having weapons in the
community that are not being used and really not needed. If this gun
owner was regularly hunting or shooting at the gun club, he would have
noticed the disappearance of his weapon immediately. However, as he
has no real use for a weapon it is apparent that he has rarely checked
his gun cupboard and that weapon is now more than likely in the hands
of someone we would all rather it wasn’t.

Guns or firearms, outside the sporting arena, have only one real
purpose – that is to kill or maim humans or animals. Consequently,
there can never really be any justification for owning a weapon unless
you are involved in sport. At risk of stating the blindingly obvious,
guns are extremely dangerous and according to the Untied Nations
Department for Disarmament, someone, somewhere is killed every single
minute by a gun. All guns begin life legitimately, there are at least
639 million firearms in the world today, of which 59% are legally held
by civilians, but many of these weapons end up being used to kill or
injure someone.

As Cayman still has a relatively low crime rate, there is little
justification for weapons to be held for purposes of personal
protection self-defence. Moreover, this is not the Wild West and
anyone shooting anyone else, regardless of the alleged circumstances,
will face charges. Proving self-defence is not always easy and can
still result in a manslaughter conviction.

With so little justification for legitimate gun ownership, it seems
that the police could easily remove a large percentage of the so-
called legitimately held weapons from circulation in Cayman with a
minor change to the law. Owners should be required to justify their
ownership as well as demonstrate their law-abiding nature before
getting a license. Owning a gun for protection is not a legitimate
reason, and as has already been noted, there are is not exactly a
litany of ferocious beasts to content with here in Cayman, leaving
only membership of the gun club as a legitimate reason to own
firearms. Considering how easily these firearms can and do enter the
criminal world, any owner who cannot demonstrate his active interest
in sports shooting should have his or her license revoked and the
weapon confiscated.

I think the real problem is that I don’t’ see any kind of correlation
between the amount of legal guns and illegal crime.  I
think it would shed some light on an always contentious issue if
we could some research to back up that assertion.  I propose
a study of police and court records on the subject. If
the facts are that legally purchased and registered
firearms are finding their way into the wrong hands and being
used for crimes, then I would say the argument is well
based.  Otherwise, I’m afraid I just can’t
see how restricting gun ownership any further will make
any difference.

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