It is an indisputable fact that in Anguilla there is a short supply of recreational activities for young people: the beach as family entertainment seems to have exhausted its potential; sport might one day become a viable alternative but has yet to develop the full extent of its promise; booze and sex remain local favourites but even such traditional pastimes reach a point of saturation. So, it seems, a number of locals have taken a liking for the thunderous blast, the blinding lightning, the thumping backlash of firing a gun. Of course, shooting a bullet at nothing is no fun, so several targets have been found –mostly human. However, it remains equally clear that –as would be expected, given the short period of apprenticeship- Anguillians cannot shoot.
In my sincere preoccupation for the cultivation of excellence in Anguilla and my honest commitment for the integral development of our small society, I propose that –given the local taste and the current condition- we actively encourage the establishment and propagation of local shooting ranges throughout the island. Just think about it for a minute: we could pressure Government into subsidising part of the operation, or at least promoting the kind of fund-raising activities that helped establish the Tennis Academy. Because this seems to be a general hobby, and because I am radically opposed to the alienation of any portion of the island, we should open several franchises simultaneously -so as to endorse equal opportunity. So say, the East End Shooting Range Social Club (henceforth SRSC) could be located in the ecologically sound environment of the East End pond, across from the museum; the West End SRSC –an exclusive establishment, no doubt- could overview the greens of the golf course; the Blowing Point SRSC would certainly benefit from the advantage of having moving targets in the shape of ferries; but to make up for that the Island Harbour SRSC, located somewhere on the hill overlooking the harbour, could negotiate with one of the restaurants in the area to organise post-shooting happy hour deals. Maybe we would need a Rey Hill SRSC, in which case the airport might need relocation: time to resuscitate the old Brimegin project! If properly developed it’s obvious that shooting might soon overtake boat sailing as Anguilla’s national sport. Only imagine how exciting it would be to replace the monotonous routine that is boat racing every August for an extended shooting tournament to culminate on Sunday –formerly Champion of Champions Sunday- in a big bravado to take place in Landsome Bowl (I understand someone attempted a half-hearted example of this event on last year’s beauty pageant, but we don’t like to talk about that): the targets on this day could be anything from terrorised Sombrero Black Lizards to undesirable subjects –perhaps even criminals- imported –if necessary- from overseas.
Sarcasm, like good wine, doesn’t travel well. Hence, two explanatory lines. What has been described above is only marginally more stupid than what is currently happening in Anguilla. Once past a certain point, differences of degrees become inconsequential. The shootings must stop. It’s up to the population as much, if not more, as it is up to the authorities to make them stop. It is crucial we realise we cannot keep dreaming about economic development while we disregard the proportional development of Anguillian society. Since the beginning of the year, I have barely been able to cope with the anger that assails me whenever I think of this whole situation; however, I experienced something of late I had never before felt: I was briefly embarrassed to consider myself Anguillian.