As long as guns exist, gun violence will claim lives. Idiocy, fury, larceny, mass shootings and gang wars can all culminate in “rest in peace.”
We have seen the consequences of what happens when guns accompany arrogance and insecurities. It was just a few weeks ago that a gang-related drive-by shooting in Leopold Street left a few injured. And before that, there was the case of army captain Orwain Sandy, who emptied his gun on his common-law wife Reona Payne, killing her instantly.
Between 2002 and 2008, gang violence, extra-judicial killings and even massacres created turmoil. Many of us lived in fear. I witnessed men strutting with guns like they were in a love affair with them.
Being a Buxtonian, the death of family, friends and acquaintances became a terrifying norm for me. The constant worry about one’s safety and the safety of loved ones was the reality. Self-imposed curfews or the administration’s curfews were no remedy for the anguish that was existing during that time. People suffered in various parts of the country and many were stigmatised, ostracised and criminalised. I am quite sure that many have not recovered from the trauma. Have you?
The recent case of Maryann Daby has ignited a conversation about guns. I fully support the right of people to arm themselves. However, with gun ownership, responsible behaviour is obligatory. Peace and safety cannot be constantly threatened by any faction of the society, whether their weapons are guns, knives or fists.
It has been reported that gunshots disturbed the typical ambience in the vicinity of the Guyana Motor Racing and Sports Club at Albert Street and Thomas Lands, where Daby was allegedly seen firing her gun into the air. It has also been alleged that she pointed the weapon at a police constable in plain clothes and attempted to fire.
I once witnessed a young man discharge a gun into the air for no purpose other than to instill fear. I pitied the fool. But it is true that instilling fear and/or taking life gratifies some maniacs in our society.
There were times I wondered about owning a gun as a way of protecting myself from miscreants in our society. Most Guyanese women, I am sure, have stories of being sexually, verbally and physically harassed by arrogant and tactless men. Maybe it is too much to hope that a time will come when the decent men in our society will be the obvious majority instead of the fools, as is the case presently.
Nevertheless, when lawlessness is the order of the day in any society, all are at risk. We cannot, therefore, accept as norm citizens shooting their guns just for the fun of it or to instill fear.
In the case of Daby, many were alarmed that she is only 25-years-old and already a licensed firearm holder. Her age does not really concern me because she is an adult. Twenty-five is an age where one’s perspective on much changes and one begins to think and behave more like an adult (well, many people, I should say; and the majority, I hope). Nevertheless, there is no reason why a calm and sensible 25-year-old cannot legally own a gun. Let’s not forget that people at any age can be irrational and reckless. We see uncouth, unhinged, and uncultured elders in our society all the time. The behaviour of some of our parliamentarians, for example, demonstrates that age is not always a guarantee of common sense or logical thinking.
If Maryann Daby is guilty of what she is accused of, it is a case of recklessness. It is also a case of attempted murder, for which she has been charged. Certainly, if the policeman had been shot or killed, the conversations people are having concerning this case would be different. I wonder if those defending her alleged actions would still do so. Some have said that she probably thought the policeman was a thief since he was not in uniform. I agree that with the spate of robberies of late, people have a right to defend themselves. Within the last week, three people I know were robbed; one in the street and two by intruders. Even a well-known doctor, Dr. Holly Alexander, the wife of Vincent Alexander, was robbed a few days ago after she left a bank.
The police say crime is down but these are fearful times we are living in when people are not even safe in their own homes. Citizens must have ways to defend themselves and if legally owning a gun is how they feel they can best do so, then so be it. It is no secret that the thieves would not hesitate to maim or kill their victims if they do not get their way.
Though Daby has been charged with attempted murder, there are those who doubt the police force’s account that she was firing her gun into the air, hence the reason she was approached by a constable in plain clothes. Sadly, the actions of members of the Guyana Police Force have contributed to the distrust of police officers. Some people have been maimed and some have even died under mysterious circumstances under police watch. We cannot forget cases like Alex Griffith, the 15-year-old who was allegedly shot in his mouth by a policeman in 2014. We also cannot forget Colwyn Harding, whom it is alleged was anally raped with a baton by a police officer. Additionally, it was not so long ago that three men were shot dead on the seawall under contentious circumstances by police. It is also no secret that other corrupt practices, like soliciting and accepting bribes, are a way of life for some officers (although maybe if they were paid decent wages, that particular problem would diminish).
Daby has her village of supporters standing with her. There are people in our society who will defend any transgression by the people they favour or believe are above the law.
The question, however, must be asked: If Maryann Daby were poor, would many be so quick to defend her alleged actions? If a youth living in an area like Sophia, Tiger Bay, Buxton, Albouystown or Agricola behaved in the manner she is accused of, would they even be alive?
The privilege of the affluent and the misconception that only people of a certain demographic can be guilty of certain crimes are not secrets.
Guns and haughtiness are a bad combination. Guns and poverty are a bad combination. A gun in the hand of any selfish, egotistical, arrogant fool, young or old, rich or poor, male or female, can have devastating consequences.