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The execution-murder of a man who was shot twelve times on D’Urban street in broad daylight early in January was ominous. The unsolved execution-murder of another man in Main Street last March exposes a worrisome weakness of policing. A man dropped a bag with AK-47 and AR-15 rifles in Norton street. Eleven weapons were stolen from a security company late last year. Guns and gun crimes seem to have become a serious public security concern again.
Former President David Granger, speaking on his weekly ‘Public Interest’ programme, suggested that the large number of firearms in circulation was triggering a surge in violent, gun-related crimes. It is estimated that there are one hundred and twenty-two thousand (122,000) civilian-owned firearms in Guyana – the highest number in the Anglophone Caribbean.
Violent crimes, including armed robbery and murder persist, pushing skilled persons to emigrate at an estimated rate of 89 per cent – one of the world’s worst. Two persons are murdered and five women are raped every week. Only a fraction of violent crime is calculated, a considerable proportion being unreported and unrecorded.
Mr. Granger observed that, although violent crime is most prevalent in the most heavily populated regions – Nos. 4, 5 and 6 – on the coastland, at least one serious crime is reported daily in Nos. 1, 7, 8 and 9 regions in the hinterland. These include robbery under arms, robbery with violence and robbery with aggravation which contributed 75 per cent of serious crimes in 2022.
Violent crimes in the hinterland, many gun-related, are increasing – 51 murders in 2020; 59 murders in 2021; and 66 murders in 2022. Attacks by Venezuelan gangs – called sindicatos – in the Cuyuni-Mazaruni Region (No. 7) have increased while the Defence and Police Forces, increasingly, are immersed on misplaced municipal chores on the coastland.
Mr. Granger lamented the absence of an effective policy aimed at eradicating the entry of illegal firearms from Brazil or curtailing the issuance of legal firearms to individuals and security companies. Excessive gun ownership combined with everyday gun crimes are making this country dangerous. Living in a peaceful environment is not a privilege but an entitlement and Guyana’s children have an absolute right to grow up in a safe country, Mr. Granger said.