Rayburn Blackmore
Rayburn Blackmore

Rayburn Blackmore, the National Security Minister, says the government is to tighten guns laws after a spate of deadly shootings here over the past two weeks.

In August three men were shot and killed while another is nursing gun shots wounds at the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) while in July a man was gunned down in Newtown. Another man was shot in Silver Lake last week.

Last week, the police mounted several road blocks in strategic areas conducting random search on vehicles. Police officers also mounted searches in Grand Bay, Bath Estate and Fond Cole. No arrest have been made.

Dominica has recorded eight killings so far for 2018.

Blackmore said amended firearms laws currently on the law books in Dominica impose stiff sentences but more amendments to the Firearms Act will be pursued.

"Once you are found with an illegal firearm, you will go straight to jail; there will be a minimum and a maximum," Blackmore said. "It is clear that the guns are in the wrong hands. We need the churches and all groups in society to come out and speak out about this and say we don't want such behaviors in our country."

He continued: "The courts also have a major role to play and ensuring that it acts as a deterrent in the commission of these crimes when it comes to punishment. We have increased the amount of magistrates and we have a full complement of magistrates with each district being serviced. Law is the cornerstone of society…and strides are being made to have a robust firearms Act. The penalties in the amended Fire Arms Act are very stringent if properly applied.

"We will not rest until all Dominicans feel safe and enjoy events. We have to make some serious choices as a society as to what Dominica we want. The police can't do it alone and this situation requires all sectors of society playing their part. We urge all Dominicans to cooperate with the police. In the coming months there will be a push to revive community policing since we are of the view that is the way to go which will lead to better results in fighting crime."

Meantime, Prime Minister Skerrit said: "We must send a clear message to people who are involved in drugs that you must cease and desist from engaging yourself in this illegal activity.

"Where there are drugs there will be guns and there will be violence and killing. All of us must play our part in Dominica in ensuring that we have peace and tranquility in our country".

Also adding his voice to the condemnation of the spate of gun crimes is Tourism Minister Robert Tongue. He said he was shocked and dismayed at the killings and called on the public to "fully support and cooperate with the police."

However, Tonge said Dominica is safe and the incidents are isolated and drug related and that all will be done to ensure that all visitors coming to Dominica during the World Creole Music Festival in October will not be affected.