Canada has a problem with illegal guns coming into the country and being used in shootings and all manner of crimes.
From what I hear, so has Trinidad, though they have a much better chance of cutting off the flow than Canada. Unprotected borders are the source of the problem in both countries.
Canada has six gun manufacturers who produce a fair amount of guns, and numerous gun dealers who import 300,000 guns annually, most of it from America. But the average Canadian criminal can’t get his hands on these legal guns without going through a rigorous licensing program and registration.
The illegal guns come in from America every day in the luggage and vehicles of Americans coming to Canada or Canadians returning home. You see, the luggage and vehicles are not routinely searched at the Canadian border. About 15,000 trucks and 75,000 cars cross into Canada each day and it would be impossible to do serious customs checks for illegal guns or anything else.
A truck driver who makes two or three trips over the border into Canada each week can hide a small Glock automatic handgun he bought on the US street for $500 somewhere in his massive 18- wheeler and sell it for $800 in Canada. That’s an easy $300 profit and he can do two per week. The Glock is top grade, what the police use. Cheap Saturday night specials can be picked up for $200, I hear.
An American visitor or a Canadian returning home from a trip to America is asked at the border if he has illegal weapons and the border guards take his word for it, and don’t routinely search his vehicle. He has a pretty good chance of getting away with a firearm or other types of weapons or explosives.
In addition to this, First Nations people who have reservations on the border can come and go as they please without going through Canadian border crossings. They can go and come by boat over the great lakes. In much of the US Canada border there are no fences at all and someone can come up to it in isolated place and toss over guns, drugs, anything to a Canadian accomplice waiting on the Canadian side.
How can this Canadian trade in illegal guns be stopped? Nobody has any solution. We just have to live with it.
In Trinidad the border remains open and unguarded for another reason, which is sheer incompetence and corruption in the security services and the administration. It can solve its illegal gun importation problem, but doesn’t want to do it.
In the past a small number of illegal guns were brought in from Venezuela by Trinidad fishermen taking it off their Venez counterparts in the middle of the sea. It wasn’t a big problem and it could have been solved easily by the coast guard searching fishing boats at random with metal detectors to locate guns hidden inside large fish.
The bigger problem in recent times has been guns brought in by drug smugglers delivering cocaine from Columbia for local use and for transshipment via container to North America and Europe. Containers from Columbia to those regions are thoroughly searched, but those coming from Trinidad are not considered so risky. The Americans for instance search way less than five percent of containers coming from low risk areas, so a container originating in Trinidad has a very good chance of getting through.
Drug dealers from Columbia want their product in Trinidad protected from competition and Trinidad security, so they give their Trinidad agents guns to do the protection and US dollars to bribe the police, coast guard, judiciary and yes government officials too.
So it is hardly a surprise that Trinidad radar doesn’t work and never has worked, so boats sneaking into isolated beaches at night or light aircraft landing on beaches or dropping off drug shipments to their agents are not detected. The few coast guard vessels have no chance of covering four coastlines properly and I understand have not managed to catch many boats bringing in drugs and arms.
I can’t say if Trinidad has an effective helicopters or airplanes to hunt down aircraft bringing in drugs and guns. Trinidad police don’t seem able to catch Trinidad drug agents picking up drugs delivered by boats and planes.
It seems big money has passed, and served to disable any and all of the methods that could have been used, should have been used to control the entry of guns along with drugs into Trinidad. What else could account for the utter helplessness of the Trinidad authorities to deal with this dual problem?
Trinidad has had a police commissioner who was openly protecting drug dealers and drug shipments. We have heard accounts of drug dealers having police informants in every police station in the country, and of police renting out seized guns kept in the police stations.
Guns seem to be available everywhere. Obvious hit men are blowing away victims. Some neighbourhoods have become war zones with armed gangs protecting their turf in frightful fashion.
Any fool can point out the solutions to at the least stop the flow of new guns and drugs into Trinidad, but no fool has been able to get it done. There’s no hope of getting rid of the large number of guns already in the country.
So if both Canada and Trinidad have a similar problem with uncontrolled entry of new illegal guns and inability to remove illegal guns already present, are the two equal in misery and hopelessness? Sadly, for Trinidad and gladly for us in Canada, it isn’t so.
Canada has a bit of a problem with illegal guns and shootings with firearms, but only in a few cities. Most of Canada is quite safe from problems with guns legal or illegal. We do have some areas with drug problems such as Vancouver East side but most of Canada doesn’t have them. Police and judiciary are widely trusted and not suspected of corruption. We don’t have war zones ruled by armed gangs. Our borders and airspace are fiercely protected from drug smugglers. There is no suspicion that our provincial or federal leaders are in the pay of drug dealers. Our biggest city Toronto with close to 3 million people has 10% of the murder rate of Trinidad and Tobago with 1.3 million. We have hope in Canada. That’s the bottom line.