While addressing a group of farmers recently on the government’s plan to curb the menace of strays, the Honourable Minister of Home Affairs was quoted as saying: “The increased fines are very important because persons used to see the previous fines as a joke …”.
Well Mr. Minister, the joke this time is on you and the administration.
The ‘Pounds Act Amendment Proposal’ among other things, calls for increased fines on owners of impounded stray animals, and police outposts to be upgraded to ensure the safety of impounded animals. Yes, stray animals wandering on our roads and private property do pose a serious risk to public safety and property. But is this risk so great that it threatens the nation’s economy, investments and the lives of our people and warrants immediate government attention. I wonder whose lawns are being trampled by strays that would make this bill a priority, when stray bullets and curbing the spiralling crime rate are at the top of every Guyanese citizens’ list of expectations of the authorities.
The laws pertaining to weapons possession, robbery under arms and the discharging of a loaded weapon during the commission of a crime should be a top priority instead.
Is there ‘internal opposition’ that would prevent the assembly from amending those laws? As another lonely voice in the wilderness, I would like to suggest to the comrades at the secretariat that the punishment for the possession of an unlicensed firearm should be five years in prison.
The use of a firearm during the commission of a crime should be, one count of weapons possession (5 years) and one count of robbery under arms involving the use of a firearm (10 years). If there were multiple victims involved, each victim should be an additional count of robbery under arms with each additional count carrying an additional two year prison term.
And if during the commission of a crime a weapon is discharged, each shot fired should be termed as a single count of reckless endangerment and should carry an additional prison term of two years per count. Five shots fired equal five counts of reckless endangerment and an additional ten years in prison.
The prevailing environment of terror warrants these measures, instead we are getting tough on strays.