Even though the minimum sentencing for someone found guilty of having a gun is seven years and the maximum is 15 years, Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance Hon. E. Jay Saunders has revealed that the new firearms legislation government is currently crafting would be merciless.
Speaking at a news conference on Monday, February 28, at the Police Headquarters in Providenciales, to launch the gun amnesty that began on March 1, and is due to expire on March 31, the deputy premier was unequivocal about his government’s determination to tackle the crime monster.
“I encourage everyone who knows about an illegal weapon or owns an illegal weapon, to please turn it in, because it is only going to end in disaster,” he warned. “And it is not only going to end where someone may get injured, but if you are caught with it, it is going to be a disaster for you, because the crime legislation that we are going to put through is going to be unforgivable.”
He revealed that government would not limit how much it intends to spend on crime, as it is determined to kneecap the scourge.
“When it comes to crime, I want the criminals to know that our government’s resolve is strong, and our pockets are deep. We will not allow residents of the Turks and Caicos to live in fear. We will go after everyone that seeks to terrorize people,” he stated.
He added: “For those who engage in crime, who believe that this is the way they want to live, I want to say to you that it is always going to lead to failure, because we are going to leave no stone unturned to make sure that the residents of the Turks and Caicos remain safe.
“I am appealing to the mothers, who know that their sons may have illegal weapons, to call the police and ask them to come and pick it up.”
In the meantime, Saunders said he believes his administration was doing a good job protecting these shores from weapons infiltration.
“I believe we are stopping the illegal weapons from coming into the country. But we have to do something about the illegal weapons that are in our country. And this is where it starts…we are trying to give people an opportunity to get the illegal weapons off the street,” he asserted, stating that the gun amnesty was only the beginning of new crime-fighting measure.
“And I don’t want the public to believe that this is a one start and then stop thing. This is just one part of the plan to get control of the surging crime. It is not about putting the amnesty out there and then stop…this is where it starts, because we are going to look at the gun crime legislation, because we cannot afford to have our residents live in fear.
“As the elected government, we stand with the Office of the Governor, the Office of the Deputy Governor, with the police to look straight down in the public’s face and say, ‘we are going to do everything that we can to make sure that the residents of the Turks and Caicos remain safe’,” Saunders reaffirmed.
He stated that government was also dutybound to offer an alternative path to those thinking about a life of crime, and his administration would pull out all the stops to make sure that such measures take place.