Collectively we must act to end violence
Gun crime continues to send shivers throughout much of Bermuda as the Government, police officials and community leaders seek ways to curb what appears to be a trend slipping out of control.
With each tragic loss of life at the barrel of a gun, whether it is gang related or not, the underlying fear in the community gains momentum with the safety factor for all at stake. This double murder occurring in a local store sends a chilling message that nowhere is off limits. Certainly not a pretty picture.
Finding meaningful solutions will be a challenge in our society, where there are people who would rather be silent than reveal information that could result in a relative or friend being placed before the courts. In any small society that attitude is a stumbling block for police trying to solve various crimes in order to protect the public.
It is one thing to talk about meaningful solutions, but actually coming up with something positive is another story. For example in the United States, President Obama has come under vicious criticism from the National Rifle Association and gun lobbyists for proposing a ban on assault rifles capable of killing many in a matter of seconds. The proposal is simply aimed at keeping such weapons out of the public domain to improve safety. However, in a nation where guns are cherished as though it is a part of their religion, not much is expected to change in a hurry.
With each fatal shooting here in Bermuda there is no shortage of outrage from the public, but sadly it is within the public where the solution will ultimately be found. Only full cooperation from all sectors of our communities will help to stem the tide of gang-related bloodshed.
We need to act collectively before Bermuda takes on the image of a mini Chicago where gang related killings occur almost on a daily basis. For starters, a review could be considered over current gun legislation to determine whether an adjustment is needed to send a stronger message that being in possession or committing a crime with a gun will carry a bitter price if convicted.
However, a much deeper problem lies beneath the surface and that is a mindset of some young men and women never seen before. This is troubling because early detection of antisocial behaviour should be picked up in the family setting. That part of the problem is beyond Government, the police and community leaders. When a family crumbles, for whatever reason, too often common values of decency are casualties, and for the vulnerable, a young mind can easily turn in the wrong direction. That is when the ticking time bomb syndrome kicks in. It is only a matter of time in most cases before the courts become involved.
The Government and the police can only do so much in trying to reverse this deadly trend. They have their hands full in coping with a deeply rooted situation that could require Bermuda as a society to take a hard look at itself. We were once known as a safe and peaceful place with beautiful people even during the dark period of social injustice. That in itself made Bermuda special.
Much has changed over the years in building a more diverse society where negative traits of the past continue to fade with each passing day. However, the modern day Bermuda finds itself short in values that once taught early create more solid citizens. In fact it would appear some folks think discipline and respect are things of the past.
Every family has a part to play in turning around the frightening mood that has gripped our Island. The future is going to be challenging because there are so many front lines of battle. Trying to restore economic strength and revamp our educational system, while attempting to improve the plight of many of our seniors and improve tourism should never be overshadowed by the issue of crime.
Government, the police, community and religious leaders need full support from the community in moving collectively to end this period of unbridled violence. Bermuda is still special, and we want to keep it special for the right reasons.