Gun bounty rewards are worth a try, say residents

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  • Valerie Weeks (Photo by Mark Tatem)

    Valerie Weeks (Photo by Mark Tatem)

  • Greg Rogers (Photo by Mark Tatem)

    Greg Rogers (Photo by Mark Tatem)

  • Andre Simmons (Photo by Mark Tatem)

    Andre Simmons (Photo by Mark Tatem)

  • Adrian Benjamin (Photo by Mark Tatem)

    Adrian Benjamin (Photo by Mark Tatem)

  • Shawn Place (Photo by Mark Tatem)

    Shawn Place (Photo by Mark Tatem)

  • Breandon Rogers (Photo by Mark Tatem)

    Breandon Rogers (Photo by Mark Tatem)

  • Firearms: Some of the weapons handed in to police in a gun amnesty in 2003

    Firearms: Some of the weapons handed in to police in a gun amnesty in 2003


The general consensus on the planned gun bounty rewards to help get guns off the streets of Bermuda is that something is better than doing nothing.

The public safety campaign begins next month to promote the reward offer by CrimeStoppers Bermuda for information leading to the seizure of illegal firearms, arrests and convictions.

When The Royal Gazette took to the streets of Hamilton yesterday to poll residents only two out of seven people said the programme was a complete waste of time.

Concerns were expressed regarding guaranteed anonymity but most saw it as a positive initiative even if it only takes one gun off the streets.

Administrator Valerie Weeks said too many people have been shot over the years, some of them she knew personally. And with so many people in a bind financially she said cash for guns is a major incentive.

“There are people who may know where guns are or they have access to them and they may follow through to get some type of reward, but it all depends on how they plan to do it.

“Once you report or hand this gun in, is it going to be held in confidentiality, that’s the main concern and will they have to testify in court?

“People will fear that the word will get out, and then there’s the snitch policy. Will it have a domino effect and put your family in danger if someone finds out who the informant is? But anything that will get the firearms and stop these crimes that’s going on I support it.”

Taxi driver Greg Rogers did not agree. “It’s going to take more than money to get guns off the streets. They’ve tried a lot of avenues that haven’t worked and I really don’t think this will work either.

“They won’t say how much money is up for rewards but I still don’t think people will give up guns for cash. If they want to find out information they have to go right to the source and that’s the people who’s got the guns and they’re not going to sell them or turn them in for cash.”

But Adrian Benjamin, who is self employed, said he thinks the bounty is a good idea. “It’s ridiculous how these guys are going around and doing what they’re doing; it’s all senseless killing.

“As long as there’s money involved I’m willing to bet that guns will get handed in. But they need to come out and just tell you how much money they’re offering.

“As far as I’m concerned a gun is a gun it don’t matter whether it’s a nine-millimetre handgun or an AK47. And with unemployment as high as it is right now some people will definitely think about it to get cash.

“When you look in the newspaper, they’re saying that they want dishwashers, they want this and they want that. But when a Bermudian goes in to apply for the job, it’s already taken.

“The general manager tells you he’s just renewing contracts for staff on work permits. It’s really bad out here when it comes to the unemployment of Bermudians.”

Andre Simmons, an entrepreneur said as a father of four he has concerns but he believes the initiative will work in a “very small way”.

“The guns have to come of the streets and I know a lot of these guys with guns see what’s taking place in the courts of justice when it comes to guns. Some of them don’t want to be in it and they’re looking for a dollar just like most folks out here struggling today.

“One gun is a good gun off the streets. I hope people understand that this is not just about getting money, it’s about getting rid of the guns; and it’s very important.

“Bermuda right now is going down under and as long as we have this crime wave, especially where guns are concerned, we will continue to go down.

“It’s going to be harder and harder for young Bermudians to come up in this Country because nobody is going to be trusting and willing to take these guys on for employment as long as young black Bermudian men are frolicking and playing with this gang violence and shootings.

“I don’t know if money is the right way to go but they need to start offering young Bermudians more, not just as far as work is concerned. They need to open up avenues for young folk to have somewhere to go that doesn’t involve sitting on the side of the road.

“Whatever it takes to raise this country up, let’s do it. I worry about my children. I have three sons and one daughter. They’re not involved in it but what I fear is that stray bullet that might come across.

“There’s no specific neighbourhood that is exempt from a bullet, my youngest son is 16 and I try to keep them as close to home as possible.”

While Mr Simmons believes “doing something is better than doing nothing he was mindful of the high unemployment rate for young people and he questioned why courses for auto mechanics, plumbing and other trades were not offered across the board before senior school.

“Not everybody wants to wear a suit and tie, some people are hands on and a computer is not the only way of life. I don’t know why these educated people just don’t get it.”

Shawn Place, a local entertainer, said the reward scheme is a “total waste of time”. “The people who do have the guns are not going to tell you that they have them and they’re not going to turn them in because most of them are related with gangs and their involvement.

“If you rent your gun for money where’s the incentive when you see with the information that’s in the press that these guns are being used multiple times,” he said.

“I wouldn’t say family members or friends know because for me, if I don’t want my parents to find out something they’re not and it’s the same for them.

“They’re not going to say ‘hey mom I have a gun under my bed so don’t clean underneath there’. Most of the time it’s buried somewhere so I think it’s a total waste of time.”

But Pembroke resident Paula Simons said anything to help find guns and combat violent crime is a plus and so is the cash reward.

“Everybody’s on hard times in Bermuda so every little bit will help. I just wish they would come to some form of method on how we’re going to end of all the violence and killings.

“But I also think the high unemployment rate for young people has a lot to do with it and the frustration because a lot of them are unemployable. They haven’t been educated fully to come out here and deal with what they have to deal with to get a job in Bermuda. It’s sad.”

Breandon Rogers, who is self employed, fully supported the initiative.

“I say the sooner they do it the better it will be for all of us because Bermuda is too small for us to be going around here running from somebody with a gun,” he said.

“These guys need to realise that Bermuda is a prison already because you’re on an Island. There’s only two ways out a boat or a plane otherwise you can forget about it and it’s too cramped. And we’re all related, half of these guys are killing their own cousins and it’s sad, real sad.”

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Published Apr 18, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated Apr 18, 2013 at 8:13 am)

Gun bounty rewards are worth a try, say residents

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