RADHICA DE SILVA
More women are expressing a need for firearm training and are looking at tactical ways to protect themselves from attackers.
So said the secretary of the South Stra Shooting Sports Range in Claxton Bay. Lalchan said the Range had over 900 members out of which 38 per cent were women.
Speaking exclusively to Guardian Media, Lalchan said many women were calling the Association daily to find out how to get to the rifle range, how to apply for training and how to acquire Firearm Users Licenses (FUL).
“As the nation grows and the crime situation gets worse, these women are crying out for help. There are lots of women who feel the need to protect themselves now,” Lalchan said.
He explained that more women started acquiring firearms a decade ago but this has intensified over the past few months.
“More women are applying for firearms now. My advice to the ladies is that under the Firearms Act 16:01 to have a firearm, to carry a firearm and to use a firearm, we must have a Firearm Users License, Firearm Users Employee Certificate and a provisional license,” he said.
“Many women have been coming around to get the forms for FULs,” he added.
Apart from frequent training at the range, Lalchan said more women are taking part in firearm sporting activities.
Lalchan agreed with the former executive director of the National Operations Centre Garvin Heerah that more women should arm themselves.
“I am appalled and I am totally against violence against women in whatever form. These are our mothers, sisters, wives and it seems that something is wrong with the upbringing some people have in this society. We should be nurtured to be more submissive and caring and to communicate more with the women of the nation,” Lalchan said.
He said based on the number of calls he has received from women recently the membership of women may surpass that of men shortly.
Meanwhile Defense Tactics Instructor and Range Safety Officer at AE Tactical, Joshua Lee also agreed that more women were coming forward to acquire firearms and participate in firearm training.
“I would say we have seen about 25 per cent to 30 per cent in the number of women coming forward. I think the current climate regarding violence against women is directly responsible for that increase,” he added.
Lee said violence against women has always been a part of T&T’s society.
“But people have had enough and I believe that is responsible for the level of the safety issues that women feel on a day-to-day basis,” Lee said.
Asked whether women should arm themselves Lee said, “ I believe it is everyone’s right for self-defence. You are the executive agent in charge of your self-protection detail. You have the right to take your self-protection very seriously,” he said.
Asked whether there were enough firearm training facilities in the country to assist women, Lee said there were several facilities available.
“We have the premier indoor facilities in T&T at AE Tactical. We have a few training programmes up and running and we have seen an increase in couples coming to train together at our range,” he said.
Daily, Lee said there are between 30 to 60 people.
As the most long-standing firearm dealer in T&T, Lee said AE Tactical has been training people in hand-to-hand self-defence tactics as well as providing highly respected training for clientele.
Last December Police Commissioner Gary Griffith urged more women to apply for Firearm Users Licenses. He said 95 per cent of the applicants were men noting that out of 30,000 firearm license applicants, just 3,000 were women.
Griffith also said the number of firearm licences issued annually increased from over 200 to 1,500.
Saying citizens had a right to defend themselves and their loved ones, Griffith said, “A firearm is not a man thing, a firearm is something that should be used by law-abiding citizens to protect themselves.”