Jan 24, 2023 Letters
During 1994, President Dr. Cheddi Jagan having repeatedly said that the PPP Government does not control the bureaucracy, and sought to address a very sensitive topic, that of firearm ownership. Dr. Jagan after reviewing the pattern of firearm applications and their subsequent approval concluded that there seemed a definite bias in favor of firearm applications made by Indo-Guyanese; so one is led to conclude that this precedent was set by the former Government.
While in conversation with his close friend Brin Pollard, who lived opposite the then official residence of the President on Vlissengen Road, then President Forbes Burnham was quoted as having said, back in the late 1970s, that he just could not understand the Peter Sellers mentality of the average public servant, who seemed inclined to sell anything and everything that came into his path. President Burnham identified licenses, certificates, passports and even the houses presented to some Government employees as salable items.
Faced with such a dilemma President Jagan said that he had received numerous complaints of Senior Government Officials, Members of International Organizations and former Magistrates and Businesspersons not being favorably considered for firearm ownership. I know of many former staff of the CARICOM Secretariat, whose applications were denied on the basis of spurious excuses from the Commissioner of Police. In an attempt to bring a measure of fairness to the system, President Jagan instructed the authorities to approve the pending firearm applications of 37 persons, most of whom were decidedly Afro-Guyanese. He proceeded to proffer a rational for his action. “He said if a former Regional Official, Senior Government Official or ex member of the Joint Services could safely operate and secure a firearm for most of his professional career, or be responsible for the management of vital resources, as in the case of those who were never in the joint services, why can’t they be responsible for the safe use of a firearm?”
Today it would seem that a preponderance of legal firearm holders is of Indo-Guyanese descent, however, given the degree of accidental injuries sustained by persons, very often the firearm holder themselves, not forgetting murder/ suicide etc. it would appear that the late Dr. Cheddi Jagan’s wisdom has not being applied as a guiding philosophy in this very vital national security process.
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