CRIME: The growing gun culture in Guyana – by Francis Quamina Farrier 

The recent extrajudicial killing of a young man on Main Street in the vicinity of the Palm Court establishment in Georgetown, poses the question as to whether extrajudicial killings are about to return to Guyana. “Perish the thought” someone said in my hearing. That recent killing also poses the question as to whether there is a growing gun culture in our Beautiful Guyana.
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Responding to that street killing, Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn, has stated that, “The Government is working to eradicate lawlessness and gun crimes.” The minister further stated that “Billions of dollars are being spent to bolster the country’s crime fighting capability.” Supportive of that over-due project, is the rehabilitation of quite a number of Police stations around the country. They include the stations at Albion, Providence, Ruimveldt, Whim and Wismar, among others.

During my period of service as a television journalist at the VCT Evening News, I produced quite a number of reports which were about police activities. One such report related a policeman going after a bandit who was hiding in some bushes. The officer ordered the bandit to surrender, which was done. The policeman professionally restrained to use his service revolver. While there are both Law-enforcers as well as civilians who use firearms in a responsible way, unfortunately there are those who do not.
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Now let us turn the clock back a little over two decades and recall the period when gun murders had become routine and almost like a pandemic. One particular daily media publication, had the images of gunshot victims regularly displayed on the front pages of that daily newspaper. It seemed to have been, as a fellow media worker once related, “When it bleeds, it leads.” Meaning that with more regular reports of murder, ’embellished’ with the graphic image of the deceased, was appropriate as, it their minds, the sale of the newspaper increases.
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There were at that period of regular gun violence in Guyana, lots of images of blooded dead bodies displayed on the front pages of one of the daily newspapers. Some social activists claim that during that period of regular extrajudicial killings in the country, over 400 young men were fatally gunned down, execution style. The talk in many quarters mentioned a specific person as being responsible. That state of violent affairs in the country was attributed to that person whose mother, while holding a bible, went on record saying, “My son is a child of God. He’s a powerful man.” It was chilling to actually hear that statement from that mother who was obviously proud of the infamy which her “powerful” son ‘enjoyed’ at that time. During that period of regular assassinations in the country, many other mothers wept for the killing of their sons. A reflection of the popular Bob Marley song, “No woman, no cry.”
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In reality, the mothers of the murdered sons did cry. In fact, they wept unconsolably as their dead sons were laid away forever. It all seemed so hopeless for them. In most cases they felt let down by those in authority. Many felt and expressed the view that they were less than a citizen of The Cooperative Republic and are only of value when elections come around. That “powerful man” soon ran out of the murder and gun culture which had gripped the country. While in another country, he was convicted for other crimes and sent to prison for many years. At the conclusion of his trial, as he was led away, escorted by two court marshals, each three times his size; he looked so tiny sandwiched between the two officers. However, just before he disappeared beyond view, he turned and gave a regal wave to his weeping relatives in the courtroom. Many had travelled long distances to be at the trial and give him moral support.
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So, with the recent gun-play on Main Street in Georgetown, the question is whether there is another  emerging gun culture in Guyana. A further question to be asked, is whether the gun culture of the recent past had in anyway influenced the younger Guyanese playwrights. Is art imitating life with the plays they are writing? Do brides actually include a gun in their wedding attire? And if so, would that bride actually shoot her loving groom, when someone attending the wedding makes an allegation as the couple is about to exchange marriage vows? Are younger Guyanese playwrights aimlessly “feeding the beast?” as they are caught up in the on-going gun culture?
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While it is the political objective to “Eradicate lawlessness and gun crimes” it must also be the objective of those up-coming playwrights to subdue their urge to produce plays with raw gun violence in which characters are executed at point-blank range in full view of the audience. There was even a play in which a female character placed a gun to her head, pressed the trigger and fell ‘dead.’ That is how that play ended. In all the plays I have seen in which suicide occurs, never once was the Suicide Hotline been part of the plot. The gun was the remedy to the problem.
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Art imitating life at point blank range in a play at the National Cultural Centre. (Photo by Francis Quamina Farrier)

The bride learns that her groom is gay, so she pulls out a gun and shoots him, in this play at the National Cultural Centre. (Photo by Francis Quamina Farrier)

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Comments

  • WIC  On 04/14/2021 at 2:07 am

    It’s very unfortunate so many young men lost their lives during the so-called extrajudicial killings and no parent wishes to bury a child. It’s unclear however, as to why they were “targeted”? were they individuals going about their lawful business or killed during unlawful activities? all over the world, social engineers seem to care more about criminals than their victims and that’s also sad. Crime MUST NOT PAY and if you do the crime, you got to pay the time.

  • Dennis Albert  On 04/15/2021 at 12:47 am

    America got mass shooting every day, motivated by hate and prejudice.

    Gang culture ain’t got a ting on American gun culture. Is gangs who got the guns here.

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