Kamla stands her ground: ‘I won’t apologise for saying light up criminals’

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissesar during a UNC/NTA politcal meeting. – File photo/Anisto Alves

OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar was unapologetic on Thursday about her controversial “light them up” statement advocating the public’s right to use licensed firearms in a stand-your-ground defence which she made at a UNC public meeting in Chaguanas on Monday.

Persad-Bissessar held fast to this position when she addressed a UNC cottage meeting at Palms Club, San Fernando.

On July 29, a female home-owner shot and killed an intruder at her Chaguanas home using her husband’s licensed firearm.

At Monday’s UNC meeting, while referring to this incident, Persad-Bissessar said, “When the criminals invade your home, draw your licensed firearm and light them up! Empty the whole clip and reload too. Fight fire with fire.”

Police investigations into that incident are ongoing. Sources told Newsday on Thursday that while investigations continue no one has been arrested.

Persad-Bissessar told UNC supporters at Palms Club, “I apologise to absolutely no one for saying to light up criminals who are invading homes, killing mercilessly and forcing you to live in fear. Empty the clip and reload.”

Describing Trinibad music as the social commentary of the youth and not gangster music as some people claim, Persad-Bissessar said she listens to that music.

She reiterated her “light them up” comment in this way.

“You have to load up your (auto) ‘matic and then knock it on them again and again.”

Persad-Bissessar thanked one daily newspaper for saying she is “reckless” for telling people to “light up” the criminals.

“I prefer to be reckless than seen to be feckless.”

After saying the laws on self defence are vague, Persad-Bissessar said those laws need to be changed.

“Criminals’ rights should cease to exist when they enter your home.”

Persad-Bissessar claimed that she has no police security at her home but police vehicles are parked outside of the homes of government officials. A video was played and Persad-Bissessar claimed it was footage of police guarding the home of Energy Minister Stuart Young.

Persad-Bissessar reiterated this is why the UNC will implement stand-your-ground laws and pass laws to make it easier to get access to legal firearms when next it returns to government, confidently predicting victory in the general election due in 2025. She promised these would be the first two pieces of legislation a new UNC government will bring to Parliament.

Reminding UNC supporters that voting for special electors in the local government elections begins on August 7, Persad-Bissessar claimed the PNM could try to influence those voters to support them.

“Light them up with our voting finger.”

National Transformation Alliance (NTA) political leader Gary Griffith, who also addressed the meeting, reiterated his support for Persad-Bissessar’s “light them up” views on licensed firearms use.

Griffith, a former commissioner of police (CoP), reiterated that Persad-Bissessar never told anyone to use excessive force.

He said the perpetrators of home invasions usually come armed with assault weapons that can discharge 35 rounds of ammunition in three seconds.

He added this was why as CoP he advocated for licensed firearms users to have clips with approximately 50 rounds of ammunition.

“You have to do exactly what Kamla Persad-Bissessar said. You have to fire as many rounds as possible to defend yourself. You have to be able to clear your clip to neutralise the enemy.”

Griffith served as national security minister at one point during the former UNC-led People’s Partnership (PP) coalition government from May 24, 2010 to September 7, 2015, and was also national security adviser to Persad-Bissessar, the prime minister at the time.

The UNC and NTA have formed an alliance to contest the August 14 local government elections.