Over the past five years Caribbean crime patterns displayed a surge in gun crimes, especially the Federation of St Kitts & Nevis.
According to Royal St Christopher & Nevis Police Force data, on November 3, 2014 a male victim known as “Markie” was attacked and shot near Bractus Shop, in Manchester Avenue, Ponds’ Extension Basseterre. Two days prior a popular thirty-seven year old bus driver known as “Broadie” was shot dead during an armed robbery in “White Gate” on the outskirts of St Pauls’ Village. The bus driver’s death was St Kitts & Nevis’ fourth murder in four weeks.
St. Kitts & Nevis Firearm Act defines a firearm as “any lethal barrelled weapon from which any shot, bullet or other missile can be discharged, or any restricted or unless the context otherwise requires, any prohibited weapon, and includes any component part of any such weapon and any accessory to such weapon designed or adopted to diminish the noise or flash caused by firing the weapon but does not include any air rifle, air gun, or air pistol of a type prescribed by a caliber so prescribed by the Minister of National Security and of a caliber so prescribed.”
Lessening the availability of illegal guns is one Royal St Christopher & Nevis Police Six Point Plan deliverable, designed to reduce murders and violent crime. In 2014, officers removed twelve illegal guns from local streets. In one scenario the Assistant Commissioner with responsibility for Operations reported that on June 11, 2015 tactical patrol officers, conducting a stop and search operation, intercepted and confiscated one illegal pistol and several rounds of ammunition. One person was arrested.
2015 records calculated Royal St Christopher & Nevis Police confiscated twenty-one illegal firearms. On August 19, 2016 officers attached to the Nevis Division seized one illegal gun. On the Tuesday night of August 23, 2016 Special Services Unit (SSU) officers, on operation in Conaree Basseterre, found two illegal black and silver Smith & Wesson 9mm pistols and fifty-one cartridges, after searching two empty parcels of land, forty-five cartridges of 45 caliber ammunition were concealed in a hole on one vacant lot. In 2016 twenty-three illegal guns were seized.
During the early hours of Friday March 10, 2017 the Federation’s proliferation of illegal guns was brazenly emphasized. Gunshots were fired towards the Deputy Prime Minister Shawn Richards‘ vehicle while at his Sandy Point residence. Internal security reports notified that the senior politician and his family were at home and escaped unhurt. According to a Superintendent of Police, assigned to probe the high-level security breach, two suspects were in custody assisting with the investigation.
St Kitts & Nevis’ Deputy Prime-Minister declined to press charges against the detained shooters. St Kitts & Nevis finds itself among other Caribbean countries caught in illegal gun flows from the USA, Central and South American post conflict countries. Records indicate the USA has in excess of two hundred and thirty million firearms nationally. Pistols and revolvers comprise one third the amount. Five hundred thousand are reported stolen and enter the underworld annually, some diverted via illegal sales by “dirty dealers.”