As the debate over the killing of teenager Ashanti Riley continues to rage within the society, so too have other conversations about how to eradicate such unfortunate circumstances. The latest to champion the cause is Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith, who is not only suggesting that more women apply for firearm users’ licenses but wants to legalise pepper spray so they can protect themselves against the criminal element.
Unlike other commissioners before him, Griffith is admitting that Trinidad and Tobago is currently at a place where we can no longer guarantee the safety of our women and girls. Based on the events of the past few weeks, he is absolutely correct.
The Commissioner did not go into too many details on the FUL matter but it will be interesting to see whether law-abiding women take up his offer to arm themselves given the current psyche of the nation on this matter.
On the issue of pepper spray, however, the Commissioner plans to approach Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi to make its use legal to women via a process the TTPS will regulate. The CoP noted that global statistics have revealed the devices give women an avenue of escape from attacks – including rapes, kidnappings and murders. More importantly is the fact that they are a non-lethal manner of making a would-be attacker disinterested, if even for a few vital seconds to allow the intended victim a chance at escape or calling for help. Yet, these devices remain prohibited in T&T to the point where the TTPS only recently engaged it in their own crime-fighting arsenal.
This media house feels the country is at a point where no stone must be left unturned in the fight against crime. As such, non-lethal avenues for law-abiding citizens to defend themselves against criminals should be pursued, since we all agree the police cannot be in all places at all times.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley was not too keen on legalising pepper spray at last weekend’s COVID-19 press conference. Indeed, the PM noted he was more concerned that it would also get into the hands of the criminals, adding they could, in turn, use it against the same women that they are intended to protect. It is unlikely then, that the Prime Minister would support CoP Griffith’s latest call for more women to put themselves in a position to acquire guns.
However, as has been evident over the past few days, society has reached its tipping point on the issue. The time for making excuses over why we cannot eradicate the problem needs to stop and proactive measures need to be taken to start dealing definitively with the problem.
So from our side, here’s to hoping that Commissioner Griffith is successful in convincing AG Al-Rawi to implementing the pepper spray measure. Whether the Commissioner will okay any flood of gun licenses for women, given that the process is of itself a very complicated and detailed one, is left to be seen.