THERE are at least 2,000 illegal guns in the Caribbean that have been traced back to the US, regional stakeholders were told on Tuesday.
Officials of the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Bureau shared the information at the opening of a three-day seminar on guns in the region.
The seminar is being hosted by the Caribbean Basin Security Institute (CBSI) along with the Caribbean Implementation Agency For Crime And Security (Impacs).
Tuesday’s meeting dealt with preventing illicit trafficking of firearms.
ATF officials said the latest data on guns in the region was for January 2020-December 2021. In that time 2,491 pistols, 440 revolvers, 275 rifles,162 shotguns and 88 guns listed as “other” were seized.
All the guns were identified using the e-tracking system. The officials encouraged those who have not yet done so to sign a memorandum of understanding with ATF in order to gain this type of assistance.
Officials said the top four kinds of handguns seized in the region are very similar, which was “quite revealing” and “unexpected,” given the geographical size of the region. Information on the number and types of ammunition seized was not given.
At the end of March, Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher said for the year police had seized 185 guns and 6,334 rounds of ammunition. Between January 1 and October 5, 2022, police seized 509 firearms, of which 76 were high-powered rifles.
On March 9, the Prime Minister signalled the country's intention to join Mexico and other Caribbean countries in taking legal action against US gun manufacturers for gun-related offences in their respective countries. The Bahamas, Antigua and Barbuda, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago are now part of Mexico's US$10 billion lawsuit against seven US gun manufacturers and one wholesaler and distributor.
Wednesday’s meeting will look at a study on guns in the region entitled the Caribbean Firearms Study. Dr Nicolas Florquin, head of data and analytics at Small Arms Survey, a Switzerland-based organisation that did the research in partnership with Impacs, is expected to discuss his findings.
The study will include field-collected data which includes interviews with people convicted of gun-related offences and information on medical costs and productivity losses for gunshot victims.
During his opening remarks, US deputy chief of mission Shante Moore thanked Impacs for facilitating the meeting and for including the US in the discussions. He added that it is only through international co-operation that the region can effectively tackle illicit trafficking in firearms.
“Over the next three days, you will help to enhance citizen security by exchanging best practices, gaining a better understanding of new trends, and facilitating co-operative efforts to combat illicit trafficking in firearms in the Caribbean,” he told those gathered, including National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds, who attended in place of the Prime Minister.
Moore said while the region is becoming more inter