File photo: National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds.
National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds has suggested that several factors including the ease of access to guns and desensitisation to violence may be to blame for an upsurge in murders in recent years.
As of Monday afternoon, the murder toll for 2022 was 583 compared to 438 for the same period last year.
The highest murder toll ever recorded in TT before was 550 murders in 2008.
Responding to questions from reporters after receiving two policies on Firearm Users Licences (FULs) and border security from the Office of Law Enforcement Policy (OLEP) at the Ministry of National Security, Abercromby Street, on Monday, Hinds believed that the uptick in murders could be attributed to several factors.
The first factor he said was the easy accessibility of weapons, adding that while conflicts long ago were usually resolved with simpler weapons, the access to guns, particularly high-powered guns contributed to the violence.
“Many years ago if two people had a dispute, it would have come down to a big stone, or a bottle or a knife or a cutlass at worst.
“Now when someone tells you ‘I’m going for a gun,’ (even) if it’s a 14-year-old, you have to take it seriously because they are available.
“I think the presence of the easy accessibility to firearms is certainly a large part of this.
“The other factor that I consider, we’ve seen, perhaps because of the prevalence and the type of firearms as well, we have seen far more quadruple murders, triple murders, double murders in a single event.”
Hinds also said the exposure of violence and anti-social behaviour to children also contributed to the killings, as children had gradually grown more accustomed to such behaviour.
Referring to research done by his staff, Hinds also referred to past media reports of violence going back over 20 years.
“We have been a violent society for a very long time and I have noticed based on the things that our children are exposed to, violence is like normal.
“Shooting, mayhem, murder, obscenities, vileness, things that I did not know as a child.
“So if that is the way we’re teaching our children, that’s what they are going to produce. That’s another fact.”
He also pointed to the prevalence and number of criminal gangs as being part of the contributing factors for the murder toll, noting that the effectiveness of criminals were amplified once they organised themselves into groups.
On the theory that murders could be linked directly to poverty, Hinds said there have been situations where people who were born into poverty and went on to become law-abiding citizens.
“I grew up very poor, and I can’t use me as an example for everyone, but I know many people who grew up very poor and not in any privilege and we are not serial murderers.
“We ain’t kill nobody, we’re not raping anybody, we’re not robbing nobody. And then for our spiritual understanding, we’re not jealous of anybody, we don’t have to envy anybody.”