Sunday 7 June, 2020

‘Hothead’ gun holders stripped of their ‘tools’ for spousal threats

The Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) is reporting that since 2018, it has confiscated 19 firearms from licensed holders who reportedly threatened their spouses.

The authority says the guns were confiscated after thorough investigations were done in each case following official reports by the females

The FLA says it has taken a proactive approach to counteracting the surge in homicides caused by domestic violence.

CEO of the authority, Shane Dalling, said he believes the threat of losing their generally prized weapons may cause men to change their violent and abusive tendencies towards their spouses.

"I believe that men will restrain themselves from abusive behaviour if they know that they will lose their weapons, the very thing which protects their lives. Sanctions are part of our public education campaign because we believe that men will not run the risk of being abusive if they may lose their firearms (as a result)," Dalling said in an interview.

He said the FLA conducts a thorough investigation to determine the substance of each reported threat, and if there is a clear and present danger to the spouses involved.

Dalling further said that the FLA, while conducting its investigations, protects the identity of the respective complainant from the alleged perpetrator, particularly in situations where an individual is believed to actually pose a threat to his spouse.

Since 2018, 19 reports of threats of domestic violence have been made by spouses to the FLA, and in each of those cases, the firearm was confiscated.

"We have saved many lives with this proactive policy of intervention," Dalling said.

There are reportedly some 45,000 licensed firearm holders across the country, with over 60,000 people in all having access to licensed firearm. That in itself represents a lot of potential anger, with also a lot of male testosterone among the predominantly male licensed gun holder population, all in all, a scenario which occasionally makes for a volatile cocktail that is ripe for melodrama and even murder. 

"Last year alone, we had four murder-suicides by licensed firearm holders, and had it not been for some of our interventions, it would have been far more. Persons have reported to us threats by spouses with the promise of violence, and we have had to call in those holders, take the weapons from them, and cause investigations into the circumstances to protect the complainants,” said Dalling.

He urged individuals to report any threats of spousal abuse, especially in situations involving persons whom he described as 'hothead' licensed firearm holders.  

"We ask individuals that once you hear of or have any inclination of such persons, report it to us. We have placed it on our website that we are focusing on domestic violence because it cannot be taken lightly,” the FLA boss said.

Dalling also had a novel suggestion. He believes that places of employment need to start looking at domestic violence in the same light as other serious offences are dealt with under the Offences against the Persons Act.

Shane Dalling

"Workplaces take an active interest if employees are charged with serious offences. In the future, there should be a similar focus on domestic violence as a major violation in terms of employment policy," he suggested.

Guns remain the most popular method to dispatch one's enemies to the afterlife. In 2018, 1,011 killings locally were done with the gun, 109 with the knife, and two in a little known category dubbed 'gun and knife'. Mostly males have figures as the victims in the 'gun and knife' category over recent years, with seven males killed in that category back in 2015.

"Firearms give cowards the power because all they have to do is stand and pull the trigger. You have to have a strong heart to use a knife to kill. I have seen men who can shoot a bird out of the sky, but cannot use a knife to cut the neck of that same bird. The firearm causes instant death and it is the most lethal in the scheme of weapons," Dalling said.

 According to statistics compiled by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) on domestic-related homicides, there have been 148 murders of females between the years 2011 to 2018, an average of almost 19 deaths per year. The years 2011 and 2013 were particularly brutal, with 26 female deaths recorded in each of those years. However, more males than females die from domestic violence each year, but in most cases, other males like relatives were the perpetrators

In recent weeks there have been several highly publicised incidents of fatal domestic killings. These included a murder/suicide involving a Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Corporal and his common-law wife. The soldier, Doran McKenzie, is believed to have chopped his 34 year-old common-law wife, Suianne Easy, to death, then turned a gun on himself.

Another case involved a 30-year-old man, Andre Bromfield, who was charged with murder following the shooting death of a woman at a food store on South Race Course Road in Mandeville.

There was also a stabbing death of a woman in St Elizabeth in January, and the alleged killing of two women in Mandeville by a man, with suspects being arrested and charged in both cases.

Earlier this week, a woman was once again at the centre of a shooting and assault drama involving her spouse and a third player, a policeman. Reports from the police are that close to midnight on Thursday, a police constable attached to the St Catherine South Proactive Investigations Unit was gun-butted and shot in his left shoulder by a Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) corporal who arrived at his home in Greater Portmore and spotted the cop and his wife in a compromising position.

That situation was played out again in full force, but minus the injury, when another JDF soldier visited his spouse’s home on Saturday night and reportedly found that a man was inside the dwelling. Luckily the man escaped, but with the memory of a single shot fired from the army man’s licensed firearm as a seminal reminder of really what could have happened.

Now of it all, does this all make sense, or are we in one big domestic crisis nationally?

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