Minister Benn examining allowing interior farmers access to shotguns
-to protect livestock from predatory animals
Minister of Home Affairs, Hon. Robeson Benn is examining several options to help interior farmers secure their livestock by providing access to firearms to ward off predatory animals.
The Minister made this statement during a community meeting at Aishalton, Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo (Region Nine) on Sunday. During that engagement, Toshao, Mr. Michael Thomas expressed concerns that predatory animals continued to threaten farmers’ livelihoods and they were hamstrung to protect themselves without their weapons.
The Minister said consideration is being given to lodging shotguns at police stations and allowing licensed firearms holders, with proper documentation, to access them to protect their livestock.
“The thought that we had recently is that maybe in the CPG [Community Policing Groups] and with people that are trained, that a firearm or two could be in a community or if there is one or two people who are firearm holders that we could give a couple shotguns in different areas and that more than one person licensed to used that firearm. That’s the notional thought we have in respect to it at the moment,” Minister Benn said.
Toshao Thomas also said cattle rustling continues to be prevalent in the Rupununi.
Minister Benn acknowledged the farmers’ predicament; however, he noted that the Ministry does not intend to have guns scattered across the country. He committed to providing a definitive answer to the Toshao within one month.
Minister Benn also urged persons in Aishalton, Sawariwau and Katoonarib, Deep South Rupununi, to enlist in a CPG as the skills they learn in this group could prepare them for careers in the military and security service. Further, the Minister noted that resuscitating the CPGS would lead to a reduction in petty crimes and keep communities safer.
He said the CPGs are responsible “to intercept, to mitigate against issues in the community, which may lead to higher types of crimes or criminal behaviour. You have drugs in the villages affecting the youths, especially the young fellows. You have issues of femicide, killing women and beating up women.
You have issues of child abuse, either sexual or otherwise all over the country and we want the CPG groups to identify the issues in the communities which put the safety and security of the community at risk, and to advise us of those issues so that we could get with the police and the Human Services to interface with the disputing parties about things.”
Minister Benn lamented that the CPGs were virtually inactive over the last five years. He told residents that CPGs were stripped of all-terrain vehicles and other vehicles, forcing their dissolution. He also noted that Administrator of CPGs, Mr. Reshi Das has been travelling to interior communities twice per week to restart the policing group by holding elections.
The programme was rebooted in November with 2,903 members across 166 groups.