Guns and protection for the private sector

This newspaper has, over the years, been blitzed with stories of businessmen who, for one reason or another, have been denied licences to possess firearms. Invariably, they arrive at their own conclusions regarding the likely reasons why they are denied the licences, surmising that the reasons have to do with issues of either personality or politics.

Stabroek Business is decidedly uncomfortable with what often appears to be the prevailing view that ownership of a business enterprise, however modest that enterprise might be, is, in itself, an automatic requisite for being granted a gun licence. Sometimes, we have been unable to persuade ourselves that the substantive interest in securing a firearm licence has not had to do much more with owning a gun than with protecting the business.

Beyond that, of course, we are yet to hear a persuasive case made to the effect that more firearms mean more security. Somehow, we are inclined to the view that in circumstances where all things were equal we would much prefer a situation in which the protection of property were left to the law-enforcement agencies, particularly the police, so that fewer people are burdened with what is in fact the considerable responsibility of bearing arms.

Another of our concerns on the firearms issue is that there are probably far too many people whose business credentials may well be questionable, who are known to carry weapons and who are usually quite keen to let it be known that they own firearms while at the same time being hard-pressed to justify themselves as business owners.

Arguably, the strongest cases for possession of a firearm among the various sectors in the business community are to be found in the mining sector. It is not unlikely that most miners believe that they should be issued with gun licences and, quite possibly, many do have such licences. Here again, it would have been much better if the Guyana Police Force were better able to enforce law and order in the mining areas since that would have negated the need to issue so many gun licences. We must make no mistake about it, applications for gun licences by businessmen and women in the gold-mining sector are made not only on the basis of their exposure to dangerous thugs and brigands but also based on the arguments that the police are patently unable to provide even a modicum of protection for their lives and their property in many instances. Hence, of course, what we are told is the pretty brisk trans-border trade in gun-running.

Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee has only just announced a review of the licensing process for firearms with a view to approving accountability and efficiency in the administration of this most important responsibility. The new Firearms Licensing Management System (FLMS) will of course only be effective if it contributes to a higher level of prudence and sound judgment in the issuance of firearms and puts an end to persistent rumours that there are really no universal criteria for the issuance of firearm licences. Sometimes, we are told, it is as much a question of who you are, as whether you really do need that kind of protection. So that whether, in applying for gun licences you fill forms or write letters, whether you pay a fee or you don’t, in the final analysis if the judgment applied by those responsible for issuing licences is flawed, the problem of a proliferation of guns will persist. Of course, there is little that the minister’s review can do to stop the flow of guns across our porous borders.

Yes, there is need for much more protection for the business community, particularly the far more vulnerable mining sector. However, we are not convinced that a regimen of more gun licences, which, in effect, provides the holders of those licences with a kind of unilateral responsibility for the welfare of themselves and their property, is the best approach to providing security.

That is why it is the announcement of Minister Rohee’s overhaul of the Guyana Police Force rather than the announcement itself that is by far the more important issue.

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The Coconut Industry

The recent announcement that Guyana will be hosting a high-profile coconut industry forum in October this year will probably not attract much sustained interest beyond the direct stakeholders in the industry though in his briefing on the forum and the industry as a whole provided to this newspaper, Mr Raymond Trotz, Chairman of the National Stakeholders Forum for Coconut Development hoped otherwise.

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Public/Private Sector Partnership

The evidence that all is far from well in terms of the relationship between the government and the private sector can no longer be ignored.

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Keeping private sector concerns in the public eye

The burden of our responsibility as the Stabroek News’ weekly Business Supplement is to publish stories and points of view on issues pertaining to the growth, development, challenges, limitations, successes and failures of the local business community.

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City Hall, central government and the parking meter matter

It is a comforting thing that sections of the citizenry have opted to hold City Hall to account in the parking meter brouhaha, if only to make the point that its behaviour in the matter of the rolling out of the project runs counter to the very commitment that it made to democratic conduct when it took office to replace a predecessor administration that had itself been accused of, not infrequently, acting as a law onto itself.

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A perspective on the small business sector

While the Stabroek Business has been unable to secure a reliable estimate of the extent of the increase in urban trading over the past five years we have noticed the pronounced upsurge in small business investments in sectors such as grooming and beauty treatment (barbering, hairdressing, cosmetology), fashion, food vending and IT goods and services.

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City Hall and the parking meters

The very last thing that City Hall needs now that it is probably better-positioned than it was a few months ago to put behind it a past strewn with accusations of fraud, mismanagement and corruption is more of the same, though it seems on the basis of the available evidence that it may not be particularly mindful of the consequences of passing the same way twice.

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