LIGHT THEM UP: Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar speaking at the UNC’s public meeting in Chaguanas on Monday evening. PHOTO COURTESY OFFICE OF THE OPPOSITION LEADER – Office of the Opposition Leader
DAYS after a female home-owner shot and killed an intruder at her Chaguanas home, the Opposition Leader is promising easier access to Firearms Users Licences (FULs) for law-abiding citizens after the UNC winds the next general elections.
And with this ease of access to legal firearms under a UNC government, she said at the party’s public meeting in Chaguanas on Monday, “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!”
On Saturday night, an intruder was shot in the head and killed after he climbed over the fence of a house in Endeavour, entered the home-owner’s SUV and then began to violently shake the front door of the house.
The female occupant grabbed a licensed firearm belonging to another person who also lives in the house, pointed it at the man through a window and fired a shot.
Referring to that incident, Persad-Bissessar said, “This is why more law-abiding citizens must be given legal firearms. This is why we must have stand-your-ground laws, so this woman will not be charged.”
The Siparia MP, who is also a senior counsel, said, “Imagine this mother seeing this criminal trying to break in to rob and rape her and her daughter, and now she can be charged for defending herself. “
She claimed the PNM did not want citizens to protect themselves against criminals. “You have to vote them out so the UNC can give you that power.”
A video clip of Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs Renuka Sagramsingh-Sooklal speaking at a PNM meeting, was then played at the meeting. In that video, Sagramsingh-Sooklal is heard telling Persad-Bissessar to stand her ground.
“Understand that the PNM controls the majority in Parliament and as long as we are here, we will not support stand your ground (legislation)…we will not support stand your ground…” the PNM senator is heard saying.
On Monday night, Persad-Bissessar turned to the Bible to support the UNC’s argument for stand-your-ground laws to fight crime. She quoted Exodus 22:2.
“If a thief is caught in the act of breaking into a house and is struck and killed in the process, the person who killed the thief is not guilty of murder.”
UNC supporters cheered as she continued, “If the holy book tells you to stand your ground and defend your family, who is the PNM to tell you otherwise?” She added, “I always tell you those who God bless, let no man curse.”
Against a background of waving UNC flags and ringing bells, Persad-Bissessar reiterated, “Those who the Lord blesses, let no man curse.” She reiterated, “We will deal with crime. The UNC will secure Trinidad and Tobago.”
The former prime minister promised that under a UNC government, people and their children will be safe from criminals.
“This election, put the physical security, financial security and mental security of your loved ones first. Don’t tote, just vote.”
She told people that if they vote for the UNC in the elections, Government “may change course and give you legal firearms to protect yourself.”
Persad-Bissessar said the elections were not just about voting for councillors but for the future of people and their children.
“I want you to look at the faces of your loved ones, your wife, your husband, your children, your mother and father or your brother or sister. Look at their faces.”
By voting for the UNC, Persad-Bissessar said people will send a message to the Prime Minister and the government that “you and your family’s security and safety are important and he (Dr Rowley) must fire (National Security Minister Fitzgerald) Hinds.”
STAND YOUR GROUND
The Prime Minister made the PNM’s position clear on stand-your-ground legislation when he addressed a sports and family day in Toco on April 30.
Dr Rowley gave his position in response to statements by Persad-Bissessar at a UNC meeting in Couva on April 17.
At that meeting, Persad-Bissessar said, “We will bring legislation to Parliament to create a specific criminal offence of home invasion, which will involve increasing the sentences for larceny, burglary, serious assault, unlawful entry to your properties, whether it be your homes or businesses; and that you will be able to use force – they (criminals) come using force with guns, cutlasses, whatever it may be.”
Speaking at the PNM family day on April 30, Rowley responded: “When the Opposition Leader says their answer to their supporters’ call for defence from the criminal element, is to pass in Parliament, stand-your-ground legislation, I want to ask the Opposition Leader: what ground are they going to stand on to kill anybody they want to kill and simply say, ‘I was afraid of that person,’ or, ‘That person was about to attack me in the road or in my yard, and I killed them’.”
He said such laws, American-based legislation, are currently being challenged in some US states that had passed it.
Rowley also warned that they allowed “some people who hate other people” to use it for “legal murder.”
He added that the punishment for praedial larceny should not be death, which was what stand-your-ground laws may very well allow.