MP Charles: Kamla should be congratulated for stand your ground

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Naparima MP Rodney Charles. –

Endorsing his leader’s proposal to introduce stand your ground legislation if the UNC wins the next general election, Naparima MP Rodney Charles criticised the Prime Minister for failing to acknowledge the proposal can benefit the people.

He also challenged Dr Rowley to bring an alternative policy to stand your ground “that makes sense,” adding the PM and his Government were incapable of coming up with well-reasoned policies to arrest crime.

“She has put forward a policy initiative. What is yours? Are you satisfied with the present state of home invasions and the status quo,” Charles said during the UNC’s weekly Sunday press briefing.

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar stirred controversy when she said a UNC government will introduce stand your ground legislation to Parliament, make FULs more easily accessible by law-abiding citizens and that people should “light up” the criminals when they comes to invade homes and businesses.

Charles said he “fully supports” Persad-Bissessar’s desire to level the playing field. In fact, he said Persad-Bissessar should be congratulated for starting a conversation on “a most important matter” of home and business invasions.

“Many law-abiding businessmen and women have been waiting for years for licensed firearms. They are at the mercy of the police’s bureaucracy and at the mercy of all criminals who have guns, illegal guns. So I support her call,” Charles said.

He reiterated that Persad-Bissessar has also promised legislation to Parliament to create a specific criminal offence of home invasion.

“This will involve increasing the sentences for larceny, burglary, serious assault, unlawful entry to your properties, whether it be your home or your business, and that you will be able to use force without retreating,” Charles said.

Charles added, “What is wrong with that? At the moment, the law is if a man invades your house, you have to use something they call reasonable force. Reasonable force is too subjective a proposition involving police officers determining what is reasonable.”

He cited the recent killing of an intruder who was shot by a female homeowner in Chaguanas. The woman used a close male relative’s gun. He said she has had to wait weeks, for an investigator to determine her guilt or innocence.

“If charged, she may have to wait years to prove her innocence in our system. How long does it take to determine whether it was proportionate to the circumstances?”

Referring to the Prime Minister’s meeting in St Joseph on Saturday, Charles said: “Last evening, he (the PM) accused the Opposition Leader of wanting to militarise the country through the stand your ground proposal.

“What Dr Rowley fails to recognise is the fact that TT is already a war zone through poor border control measures,” Charles said, adding that it was the criminals who are militarised with their high-powered arms and ammunition, sourced through porous borders.

He cited the murder on Saturday of businesswoman Allison De Leon, in San Fernando, saying anyone is susceptible to a deadly ambush anywhere in this country.