Crime is a despicable phenomenon, no matter what. Death is always shocking, always painful. However, there is a difference –a minor, subtle yet palpable difference- between passionate jealousy turned into regrettable stabbings, inebriated discordance turned into fiery brawls and the hideousness of premeditated treachery resulting in a bullet in someone’s chest. I’m not condoning anything; I’m simply trying to restore perspective: we have clearly gone a million miles too far. It is completely inconsequential whether the guy was a saint or a rogue; the point here is that there should be -in fact, there is- no place in Anguilla for violent crime. The logical consequences of that statement are unmistakable: there is no room in Anguilla for guns. Not legal, not small calibre, not high range, not anything.
And yet the traffic of arms seems to be proliferating at a ghastly rate. A gun amnesty has already been declared in the past, to little avail. Informed searches often fail, victim to rapid communication and ready-made outdoor stashes. Alternatives have been sought; the time has come for draconic measures to be taken. The first thing we need in Anguilla is a strengthening of the police force -preferably with foreign members. The lull of the night can no longer protect criminals: we need night-time patrolling; we need a rapid response operation; we need a team of skilled policemen who are experienced in dealing with firearms at the service of the community. Beyond that, however, we also need a number of measures to instil respect in the consciousness of villain minds and to restore trust in the judicial system: there must be a significant intensification of the punishment attributable to anybody carrying a gun, for example (also to anybody caught smuggling drugs, incidentally); there needs to be a conscious decision to show ruthlessness towards criminals convicted of such crimes -regardless of who they might be, of who they might know.
Anguilla found itself in the middle of its most successful season ever. Anguilla finds itself halfway down the lane of adjustments that will eventually lead to a significant shift in me lifestyle of all of its inhabitants. In short, Anguilla is at a decisive stage of undergoing changes where it is absolutely crucial that the local population show their character and give their input in the realisation of a project that could eventually turn out to be unique. Anguillian society was -still is- unique. At the heart of Anguillian society lies a core of righteous honesty that defies simplicity, that presides over the natural lust and ambition that are equally characteristic of Anguillians. Our world has expanded ten, fifty, hundredfold in the past twenty years, it is often challenging for ignorant minds to cope with the dazzling choices of progress; however, ignorance is not a crime, it is also not a condition that cannot be redressed; and it certainly is not incompatible with respectability. Stupidity, on the other hand, is a pathologic condition that vilifies human nature and the stupidity of a few can turn the economic development of an entire society into the localised exploitation we find in so many other Caribbean islands.
The most important thing to do now –obviously- to find the culprits of the heinous crime we have experienced this last week. This time the perpetrators cannot walk free. But that is only the first step: it is truly necessary we send out a message that this sort of activity -be it the plain idiocy of gang warfare or the amateur rashness of opportunistic robbery- will not be tolerated. None of these felons, once caught (and they must be caught) should be allowed to see the light of day in their youth again. It doesn’t matter who they are; it doesn’t matter why they did it. The plea is not only to set an example but rather to eliminate guns and restore stability in what has until now been a privileged society.