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Posted: Thursday 18 January, 2024 at 10:13 AM

DPP Smith: Stiffer penalty not solution for gun crimes

By: Jermine Abel,

    BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - THE Director of Public Prosecution, Adlai smith, is of the firm view that the solution to gun crimes in St. Kitts and Nevis is not stiffer penalties but rather getting to the root cause.


    Over the past year, the Federation had seen an increase in gun violence that resulted in  31 reported homicides, according to statistics kept by the media, while there were also other instances of Shooting at With Intent.


    During a recent conversation, SKNVibes News asked the DPP whether harsher penalties for those who commit gun crime would act as a deterrent, inlight of the fact that several years ago the Government had increased the penalty for individuals found with illegal firearms.


    “Stiffer penalties are not a silver bullet,” the DPP said. “Even when you had the death penalty, and it was mandatory for murder, people still committed murder. And it all comes back to why people commit criminal offences. And not all people have the same motivation.”


    There are theories which argue that people think about the consequences of their actions before committing crimes, while there are others who, because of their upbringings regardless of their penalties, will not commit criminal offences, the DPP noted.


    “But the issue of greater penalties, they would only deter a certain section of the public, who it might affect. With respect to those people who behave impulsively, who are willing to take risks, it will not change….Of course, there are those diehard criminals who just don’t care,”


    While emphasizing his point, DPP Smith noted that “I would advocate for an approach which is well rounded and seeks to attack the problem from different sources.”


    It was against that backdrop that he said a number of factors must be considered, including “what is the source of the gun crime?” 


    He challenged whether there is legislation to tackle the issue of ghost guns. 


    “We know ghost guns can be produced by 3D printers and only certain types of 3D printers. What legislation is there to curb the importation of 3D printers that are capable of making these guns? These are just some of the things I think have to happen.”


    The Federation has reported four instances of Shooting at With Intent in the Federation for the year. At least two persons were hospitalised nursing injuries.


    It is a known fact that this Region does not manufacture firearms.


    Just over a week ago during his two-day visit to Guyana, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Western Hemisphere at the U.S. Department of Defense, Daniel Erikson. was questioned on the proliferation of illegal firearms from America entering the Caribbean Region.


    In response, he said: “We recognise that this is a big concern throughout the Caribbean because it is tied to illicit criminal networks, transnational criminal organisations [and] certainly tied to the overall drugs and narcotics trade that exist in the Region.”


    He indicated that his Government is focused on addressing those concerns and would provide additional prosecutorial assets to investigate and prosecute cases of illegal firearms trafficking in the Region. 




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