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Chang welcomes US congressional effort aimed at stemming flow of guns to the Caribbean

By Prince Moore
 
National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang says he is encouraged that US legislators are turning their attention to the impact of guns from the US on the lives of Caribbean people. 
 
His comment follows news that a bill was introduced in the United States Congress to address the worrying number of illegal firearms that end up in many Caribbean nations, where murder rates far outpace global averages.
 
Congressman Joaquin Castro, Congresswoman Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, Senator Chris Murphy and Senator Tim Kaine introduced the Caribbean Arms Trafficking Causes Harm (CATCH) Act to help curb illicit arms trafficking from the United States into the region.
 
Dr Chang, in response, told Radio Jamaica News that it's good to see the US Congress taking some action to manage the flow of illegal firearms into the Caribbean. 
 
"It seems they are trying to hold the traders and manufacturers more accountable, as to where their guns go, which may reduce the number of firearms to come out," he observed, but also conceded that "it is a tricky thing because they operate in the under world, so to speak... and also, some of the firearms, though manufactured in the US, come through Central America..."
 
Notwithstanding these challenges, he stressed that "it is good to see legislators taking an interest in it and taking steps that could bring about some more accountability, in relation to arms manufactured in the United States, that are coming to the Caribbean and causing serious problems."
 
The CATCH Act, if passed, would improve transparency and accountability within U.S. anti-trafficking efforts and prevent U.S. firearms from fueling gun violence in the Caribbean — especially in Haiti, where guns from the United States have played a tragic role in the ongoing security, political, and humanitarian crisis.
 
Ward's view
 
Former Jamaican Representative at the UN Security Council, Curtis Ward, has also taken keen interest in this legislative developmentis in the United States.
 
He's of the view that, while the CATCH Act is an encouraging further step in the process to curb illicit arms trafficking to Jamaica and the Caribbean, the Bill faces a number of hurdles.
 
The draft legislation builds on the success of the bipartisan Safer Communities Act (SCA), which focused on cracking down on straw purchases and domestic trafficking offenses. 
 
That bill was signed into law in July 2022 by US President Joe Biden.
 
Ambassador Ward, in a special guest column for Radio Jamaica News Online, said those who have an extreme pro-gun view of the Second Amendment to the US constitution will resist this new move as part of a creeping erosion of their unfettered right to gun ownership. 
He says, even with initiatives, such as the Safer Communities Act and the CATCH Act, the U.S. government will have to do more in terms of outgoing cargo screening and interdiction.
 
Ambassador Ward says the Jamaican government must also significantly improve its customs and border control capabilities, including maritime border control.
 
 
 
 
 
 


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