The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – The Guns of August

BU shares the Jeff Cumberbatch Barbados Advocate column – Senior Lecturer in law at the University of the West Indies since 1983, a Columnist with the Barbados Advocate since 2000 and BU commenter – see full bio.

MUSINGS: The guns of August


Barbadians might be forgiven for thinking that our island in recent weeks had been transformed into some latter day Caribbean Dodge City or Tombstone Territory, given the alarming incidence of crimes involving the use of firearms. It is disconcerting enough when the offence involves mere unlawful possession, although if one judge from the newspaper photograph of one such weapon, preparations for an internecine civil war or a serious public assault might already be substantially underway.

This may be scary enough; however, when there eventuates the scenario of an innocent bystander’s life becoming the collateral damage of some unfriendly fire, the situation becomes even more terrifying.

Despite the populist diagnoses of this spate of gun violence, ranging from scarcely veiled partisan discourses on the degree of the contribution of the state of the economy and, by extension, depending on the speaker’s political allegiance, the indirect responsibility or non-responsibility of the governing administration for the current state of affairs, to the so-termed “slap-on-the-wrist” approach of the magistracy and judiciary to sentencing offenders that, as popular wisdom would have it, contributes immeasurably to all criminality in Barbados. There have been more broad hints than one in the public domain during the last week that some aspects of Sharia law may not be that bad after all.

Last week’s revelation from the acting Commissioner of Police, Mr Tyrone Griffith, of the police suspicion (he might have put it higher than that) that negligently or criminally inadequate oversight by local customs officers of incoming cargo is a major contributor to the presence of illegal firearms in this country was always going to set the cat among the pigeons in a jurisdiction where such sweeping generalisations are more than likely to raise the hackles and much otherwise of all the members of the class of individuals at whom fingers are pointed.

As to be expected, there is a report in another section of the press this morning (Saturday) that customs officers are “hopping mad” and their representatives “outraged” and befuddled at what has been reasonably interpreted as a generalised calumny on all customs officers.

Of course, I do not believe that this defamation was intended by the acting Commissioner, but it would have satisfied the requirements for actionability in the courts had he been any more particular in his assertions. Indeed, as I propose to tell the students in the law of Torts II lectures in a few weeks, when a wide class of individuals is impugned by a statement, no member of that class may sue successfully for defamation unless he or she is able to establish that there is something in the statement that would lead the ordinary hearer or reader reasonably to consider that the claimant was being referred to.

While this is the strict legal position, it is at least doubtful whether the customs officers would be detracted by such a technical consideration.

However, given that it would have been both defamatory and impolitic for the acting Commissioner to be any more specific in this context, there is necessarily now an impasse between the two entities to be judged in the court of public opinion. There the issues to be determined are whether the acting Commissioner was right to have made the police suspicion public without there having been at least the arrest and charge of one officer, and whether the customs officers are not being overly sensitive, given the allure of an argument that a proliferation of weapons in the island must include at least a number that were imported through the lawful ports of entry.

The workers’ representatives are nothing if not adamant that the Commissioner’s statements were more than unfortunate. While the more representative of these organisations, the National Union of Public Workers [NUPW], has termed them as “inflammatory, without basis” and serving only “to tarnish the reputations and integrity of all customs officers”, Mr Caswell Franklyn, the leader of the Unity Workers’ Union, argues that the police force was “more responsible for interdicting weapons than Customs given its superior facilities and training…”

What may be equally regrettable is the appearance of a public spat between these two governmental entities that are placed in the forefront of the interception of contraband into the jurisdiction. At a time when there are already publicly expressed fears that the interdiction of drugs, despite reports of periodic substantial seizures, is barely effective if at all in stemming the available local supply, any fissure in the scheme of co-operation between these agencies could scarcely be in the public interest.

Perhaps it may be that guns have become the new controlled narcotic substance and thus their imported presence here, like that of the latter, is inevitable.

For the average Barbadian, this maybe a future too terrible to contemplate. A combination of astute political leadership, the committed co-operation of the responsible authorities and judicious parenting would serve us all in good stead to alleviate the problem.

153 thoughts on “The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – The Guns of August

  1. Balance,

    Quite true. I always said he wasn’t as wise as people say. But then again most people don’t think before they speak when it comes to the Bible.

    I know you are coming from a different angle. But I discovered a long time ago that it was vanity. When as a young person I read many of the life stories of the super rich I realized that the only problem they don’t have is a money problem Or perhaps I should say a LACK of money problem because having too much money also presents problems, I find.

    I am quite content with not being super rich. When I dream of having a billion dollars I think about how I would put it to use for our nation’s children. I’ve worked out how I would spend it. It would be a hands on approach. I imagine those children’s faces wreathed in beautiful smiles. I imagine God’s face beaming at me. I imagine my funeral with all my grown up babies in attendance. My babies handing out the leaflets, my babies helping my son with the casket. My babies making a presentation in song, drama and dance. My babies supporting my son as he gives the eulogy.

    And before you think I’m too morbid. This came from a funeral I attended a where a young well-loved teacher was laid to rest. The preacher asked us to imagine our own funeral and what we would like to be said in our eulogy. Then he asked us to go about living our lives with that in mind.

    When I dream this dream I find myself grinning like a Cheshire cat.

  2. But I have an answer for u stay out my face stop reading my comments and it sure as hell would make yuh life easier and furthermore you won’t have a brain seizure finding answers for ac.have a good day

  3. ac,

    Actually I picture you in my mind when I read. Mumbling and lashing out wildly and incoherently.

    It reminds me of a character I knew that the children used to tease, calling her “Assey”.

    I always felt sorry for her but you I find hilarious.

  4. Is the return of Jesus closer than you think? What are the most powerful prophetic signs being fulfilled on the earth today? How is the new Middle East after the Arab Spring aligning with the testimony of the biblical prophets? What are the little-known prophetic signs that few are paying attention to?

    Addressing all these questions dramatically and insightfully is New York Times bestselling author Joel Richardson’s latest film, and today only, WND readers can get their own copy of this stunning documentary, “End Times Eyewitness: Israel, Islam and the Unfolding Signs of the Messiah’s Return,” for only $4.95 – a huge $20 discount off the regular price!

    “End Times Eyewitness” takes you on a firsthand journey into the heart of the biblical world, to the front lines of the ongoing Middle Eastern revolutions. Discover how the most powerful prophetic signs are being fulfilled on earth today and how the new Middle East after the Arab Spring is aligning with the testimony of the biblical prophets.

    Find out how Muslims are talking about helping to rebuild the Jewish Temple. Learn about the Islamic eschatological belief that Jesus will return to lead the Caliphate and require Christians to convert to Islam.

    Filmed in several nations and featuring the testimonies of global Christian leaders, pastors, theologians, and missionaries — as well as some of the most prominent Islamic scholars in the world — “End Times Eyewitness’ reveals which biblical prophecies of the last days are being fulfilled on the earth today and what is coming next.

    Join Joel Richardson as he interviews:

    • The legendary Old Testament scholar Walter C. Kaiser Jr.

    • Adnan Oktar, a Turkish Muslim leader who talks about the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple – with the help of Muslims

    • Sheikh Ekrima Said Sabri, the son of the late Grand Mufti of Jerusalem who explains Islamic eschatological belief that Jesus will return to lead the Caliphate and require Christians to convert to Islam

    • Rabbi Yehuda Glick, head of the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation

    • International House of Prayer director Mike Bickle

    • And many other Christian leaders from Israel, Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and the United States.

    • Can we keep the standard of the discussion up? The objective of a forum like this is to share opinions and learn from one and all.

      On 26 August 2015 at 16:54, Barbados Underground wrote:


  5. David,

    You need to speak to all your other contributors then, don’t you? If I am attacked I will defend.


    You like you can only give but you can’t take. I thought better of you.

    • It was a general request. Note also we hold some commenters more responsible. They are some commenters who do not have the capacity to appreciate what is decorum.

  6. Piece Uh De Rock Yeah Right August 24, 2015 at 12:35 PM #

    “Bush Tea, who dis Donna is? You feel dat de blogmaster would give a fellow she real real IP? I surprise dat AC ent start to cuss she yet !!”

    Behold, PUDRYR asketh of Bushie, “From whence this Donna came?” and foretold she may suffer the wrath of AC’s tongue.

    And it came to pass that on the 2nd day after PUDRYR asketh his question and foretold his vision, AC smote Donna with her tongue, saying: “The standard deteriorated when one class clown by the name of donna made a tactical error to be ugrunt…….” [ac August 26, 2015 at 1:06 PM #].

    But Donna waxed mighty, and should have told the ACs, “Howbeit there is no reckoning or boundaries of thine ignorance, even in thine own eyes. And thou hath wrought much incoherent political diatribe in the house of BU, enough to provoke even David to anger.”

  7. Artaxerxes,

    Actually she started on Sunday with her personal attacks.


    Wait, are you saying that Bushie doesn’t know what decorum is? LOL

    • @Hants

      It has become too predictable. If a person who constructively engages others does it occasionally fine, then we get others all they do is froth at the mouth, daily.

      On 26 August 2015 at 20:00, Barbados Underground wrote:


  8. Yes Please! i am raising my hand ! can i say something,,, is that enough decorum
    In any case let me warn the centepides of the BLP type that snow woul;d fall in bubbudas before ac let any carnivorous insect black white or green draw blood and ac not respond,.
    Since the topic is concerning crime and violence what transpires on most of these threads with outlandish and vicious attacks hurdled at opposing views is a representation and manifestation of a culture that was formed many many years ago but was kept silent because of technology for the most part a culture which was handed down from generation to generation under the cloak of darkness and which has now find it way on the streets and dispensed of by a newer generation
    Lets not fool ourselves that similar actions done only in words on social media by “so called intelligent in our society does not have an altering effect that corrupts the minds of the youth;
    If all are truly serious about corrective measures one should take a good look at ones behaviour with considerable criticism making judgement calls whereby one is forced to condemn self and practice becoming advocates of exemplary measure whereby the youth can look for guidance. No sense in getting on social media and condemning the youth when mash up and break up sits right on one.s front door, in gestures to curse and degrade coming from own mouth.
    Those within the reach of BU and the internet should become more civil in their words and cull the temptation to be leaders or cheer leaders of insults and bullying tactics

  9. “When I dream this dream I find myself grinning like a Cheshire cat”

    Keep dreaming Donna , keep dreaming Vanity or no Vanity I wish I could be a King Solomon any day

  10. Hants,

    What fight what? Just a little fun with somebody I thought could take it. It’s the difference between a Sangakara tease and a Shane Watson sledge. I thought water used to run right off a duck’s back. I would never harm a defenceless creature. Honest.

  11. How could somebody call someone a centipede and in the same breath rant and rave about a culture of violent insults?

  12. Because sumbody aint no fool, now go wash yuh draws and stop picking fights with the wrong persons,
    the mesaage was for you fool glad you read it!
    do ac a favour just stay on your side of the street before you get run over .

  13. ac,

    You do realize that the only person who thinks you won this is you, don’t you? Oops! Of course you don’t because you don’t even have enough sense to know when you’re beaten.

    Silly me, I forgot that in order to have a battle of wits one must have two wits not a wit and a twit.

    Goodnight twit!

  14. Back to the guns and drugs.

    The short term solution is for the police to carry out massive raids in troubled neighborhoods.

    At least that might slow down the black on black gun violence.

  15. “And at the end of your life you would come to the same conclusion.”
    And what glorious vanity would it be to have you in the harem

  16. Well what is so wrong when one sees themselves as a Winner? against what others think of them / Isn/t the goal in life to be a winner .then why should one allow others to set the stage .put the agendas in in place and declare who won or who Lose
    Girlfriend their is no one under the sun that can or will decided where i should be placed or how i should be categorized( and)for those reason i declare myself a WINNER.

    ‘A secret priesthood of people who have access to supernatural power’
    Published: 10 hours ago

    Who is this mysterious woman?

    Popular theories say it’s the Roman Catholic Church. Others point to New York City, seat of the United Nations, Wall Street and all manner of human greed and fleshly lusts. Some say it’s apostate Christianity in general, not just the Catholic Church, or America as a whole, not just New York.

    Still others point to Mecca and Saudi Arabia’s royal family, which lives in opulence and owns everything from diamond-studded cars, a harem of sex slaves and more than a few Washington politicians.

    Whatever it is, this mysterious Babylonian spirit reigns supreme during the very last days, and if the amount of space devoted to it in the Bible is any indication of its importance, then it might behoove the faithful to dig deep into the bowels of Revelation 17-19, Isaiah 13-14 and Jeremiah 50 in search of clues.

    Solving this mystery could hold the key to understanding the spiritual battle raging right now in the earth, say the authors of a new book, “The Babylon Code: Solving the Bible’s Greatest End Times Mystery.”


    To understand what is happening now regarding the “Babylonian spirit” you have to go back to the beginning, says Paul McGuire, co-author of the book with Troy Anderson, who is executive editor of Charisma magazine.


  18. @ Artaxerxes

    That bipolar outbreak had to happen sooner or later

    On another thread you hinted at what the ole man will call “Positive Behavioral Modification

    You said “programs should foster the good practice of disseminating valuable information on important issues …(I only took and excerpt of your sentence)

    CBC reporting lies should be lead the charge in this “PBM”

    “Socially Responsible” Propaganda when fashioned by men and women of vision (not the Chilrun are is reading well) can make a serious impact on these issues that are besieging and defeating us i.e. the senseless use of guns, drugs, crime, our lack of values

    TV as a tool CANNOT SOLVE EVERYTHING but it will go a long way in creating a rudder of sorts trying to build a “conditioned” environment, in and among our errant citizenry

    “Accentuate the Positive” does have a place under our Sun.

    Let corporate Barbados and dem fellows at Sagicor en ting pull dem pockets to underwrite a nexTV/Radio station which will only focus on upful materials NOTHING ELSE

  19. Balance,

    Trust me, you don’t want me in your harem. I’d organize a rebellion and you’d probably end your life as a eunuch. Then you’d have more reason to cry- “All is vanity!”

  20. Balance,

    “Trust me, you don’t want me in your harem. I’d organize a rebellion and you’d probably end your life as a eunuch. Then you’d have more reason to cry- “All is vanity!”

    Is that an offer or challenge? Solomon has never been known to back down.

  21. ac,

    Thanks! When you don’t have a man to fight with you got to find somebody who enjoys a little spat. (That’s me without the man. Not suggesting anything about you.)

  22. Pingback: The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – The Guns of January | Barbados Underground

Leave a comment, join the discussion.