Minister Duncan’s gun policy has more opponents than supportersPOSTED: 04/27/11 11:45 AM
Vice PM Heyliger is for:”I should have the right to defend myself”
St. Maarten – National Alliance member Kendall Dupersoy defended Justice Minister Roland Duncan’s gun policy in a brief interview with the web site sxmislandtimes.com this weekend, but his statements drew a lot of criticism from site visitors. Of 25 reactions, 15 were negative and 10 were positive (supporting the gun policy), but five of these supportive statements came from the same writer. However, yesterday Vice Prime Minister Theo Heyliger came out as a supporter.
Justice Minister Roland Duncan intends to put his policy that allows citizens from the age of 25 to apply for a gun license in place on May 1. Initially the age limit was 18, but this has been adapted. Parliament President Gracita Arrindell has expressed her wish to debate the policy but that won’t happen before the week of May 9 to 15 when the parliament convenes for the first time after the Carnival celebrations.
“Law abiding citizens have a right to protect themselves,” Dupersoy told sxmislandtimes.com. “A lot of people are thinking that when we put the gun policy in place everybody over the age of 25 can just walk into a gun shop and walk around with a gun, but that is not the case.”
“To get a gun before was up to the Lt. Governor,” Minister Heyliger said yesterday. “Now there is a policy, and you have to go through certain regulations to obtain a permit. I don’t think that you are going to get a license if you are selling drugs. But I should have the right to defend myself.”
Dupersoy said that applicants “still need a valid reason to carry a gun, as a businessperson or to protect your home.”
He also referred to the conditions the Justice Minister has attached to the policy – like having a gun safe at home, a psychological evaluation, and training. “It is a responsible policy that regulates that law-abiding citizens can have a gun.”
Dupersoy said that “criminals already have guns,” adding that “there will not be an influx of additional criminals when the gun policy is in place.”
Dupersoy pleaded for firmer penalties. “There have to be serious penalties in place for illegal gun possession,” he said. “Right now somebody who is caught with an illegal gun is usually out of incarceration within a month or two.”
However, the Court in First Instance routinely hands down 12-month prison sentences for illegal gun possession alone.
Dupersoy maintained that it is not right to criticize the Justice Minister “for putting in place a policy that allows law-abiding citizens to carry a gun or to have it at their home.”
Reactions to the statements were mostly negative. “We should debate how we can help our disenfranchised fellow men so that they don’t have to choose a life of violent crime,” one site visitor wrote. “At the end of the day, a man just wants to have money in his pocket and food on the table. The man in the hood wants to know how you can help him make a dollar, learn a trade and feed his family and loved ones.”
Another visitor wondered what giving guns to people will do to solve crime. “Up to now I hear nothing from the Minister or from those who are for his policy about reducing the guns that are already on the street. Instead the solution is to give guns to those who can afford it.”
A third visitor commended Dupersoy, not for defending the gun law, but for his call for stronger law enforcement. Other than that, he wrote, “Education is the new currency for the 21st century. Therefore let us invest in our youths going abroad to further their education, and invest in their return by giving them an opportunity to put what they have learned into practice.”
A Canadian visitor reacted horrified. “This is not going to solve the increased crime on the island. Canadians will not visit your country if everyone is carrying weapons. I will not be coming to St. Maarten if I have to carry a gun for protection. Will there be a gun rental booth at the airport?”
Another visitor had his doubts as well. “To me the gun policy just means more guns on the island. Simple: find a way to get rid of the ones out there first. Protect your people before you allow them to protect themselves.”
Bienvenido Richardson also pleads for finding ways to get rid of illegal guns, “rather than applying a discriminatory law.” Richardson contends that those who live by the gun will die by the gun. “Having a gun at home or on you will not mean that you are safe. Having a permit to carry a firearm only spells more trouble. By the way, granting permits to business owners is in place and they still get robbed at gunpoint.”
Captain Zen, aka Alexander Baldal promotes a program that allows the police to buy illegal guns off the streets. “I am all for non-lethal rubber coated 12-gauge defensive ammunition, obtainable at the Marigot gun shop,” Baldal added. “It goes off with a sound three times louder than a normal gun, it stuns the attacker and calls for attention. License or not, that is my solution.”
An anonymous visitor noted that “guns were made to kill whether it is man or beast. Having more guns in the hands of law abiding citizens or the criminals will only lead to more loss of life. To the gentleman who thinks our civil rights are being eroded: a gun is a weapon and not a tool.”
That last remark was aimed at Peter Gunn, an established pro-gun advocate who submitted five reactions to the discussion, all in favor of the gun policy and citizens’ right to defend themselves. “Preventing people from owning the tools they need to protect themselves and their families is a grievous erosion of civil liberties and needs to be rectified as soon as possible,” Gunn wrote. “Banning gun ownership has left decent people defenseless while the criminals remained armed. That has not made people safer.” Gunn added that “many anti-gun people do not think with their mind.” Later, he added this line: “Would anti-self defense folks volunteer to protect me 24/7? No? Then hands off my safety.”