Opinion: Security guards

POSTED: 09/30/11 12:22 PM

Does it make sense to allow security guards to carry firearms? And if so, would this contribute to a safer St. Maarten?  Justice Minister Roland Duncan tends towards allowing this but he put a big if on the table, and rightly so. Security guards could be allowed to carry firearms if they are properly trained, the minister said earlier this week.

We understand that, given the number of violent crimes the island is experiencing, citizens and politicians are scrambling for solutions to turn the tide. But is more guns the correct answer? We doubt that very much, because the problem is complex and there is no quick fix available.

We’re not sure how many security guards are there on the island, but we often times get the impression that they outnumber our police officers. We know a couple of guards and we see others whom we don’t know and we have made an effort to picture these good people with a gun on their hip. It just doesn’t compute.

Security guards in supermarkets for instance, seem to be at their post more to monitor that customers do not engage in proletarian shopping then to fight off armed robbers. Many of them don’t look like they would survive as, say, a bouncer at a night club.

No offence, but we definitely get the impression that quite some, though not all, security guards are prime candidates for a class at Weight Watchers. Maybe they are fitter than they look, who knows?

But to give these security guards firearms does not sound like a brilliant idea. Sure, Minister Duncan only seems inclined to do this if they are properly trained. But who is giving the training? What will the standards be? And who is responsible once these security guards start firing from the hip killing innocent bystanders? Who is going to pay for the training and how long should it last?

And once they are armed won’t they give tourists the impression that they landed in a police state rather than on the friendly island?

Let’s not forget that weapons do not solve the underlying problem. We all know what it is, yet not enough is done to turn the tide. We are confronted with high youth unemployment and, in spite of what Minister Duncan says, with an under educated work force.

So what we need is education, education, and more education, instead of more weapons. Young people also need a mentality change. Being unemployed does not necessarily mean that one has to be poor. The government has to create the environment that offers a new generation the tools to equip itself for the competitive labor market. The private sector has a role to play as well, because it has a vested interest in a strong labor force.

Properly educated, many people will discover that they do not necessarily need an employer to make it in life. They could become their own employer, do their own thing.

Tough economic circumstances push people against the wall. But taking a no job, no money and no future attitude is not going to save the day. When all the chips are down, it is time to become creative.

What we see at the moment is that many youngsters choose a criminal career if they do not make it in the job market. This is happening because they fail to see that there are alternatives. There always are.

A hungry man is an angry man, the song goes; but he could also become creative. Remember the economic crisis in the thirties of last century? That is when somebody sat down at his kitchen table and invented or re-invented, the jury is divided on this a game that is still around today. It is sold all over the world and it is called Monopoly.

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