Mon | Feb 18, 2019

Garth Rattray | The 'trigger boys' are not thinking

Published:Monday | January 22, 2018 | 12:00 AM

I'm not going to refer to them as gunmen. That suggests that those cold-blooded killers are a facsimile of real men, and it also suggests that they are respectful of what guns can do. All those boys can do is point and squeeze a trigger.

People who are properly trained in the use of firearms are very respectful of them and respectful of life. Guns can be used for defence, offence, sport or competition. But, no matter which use they are put to, they are all potentially deadly and demand caution and respect.

'Trigger boys' have no respect for life. It's like giving untrained, immature, undisciplined, inebriated, angry, and malevolent children the keys to high-performance sports cars and letting them loose on the road. The upshot: People will be maimed and killed. There are going to be disasters. The nation will mourn.

Trigger boys cannot afford to buy the weapons they carry. The real masterminds are obviously very rich and/or very connected. Trigger boys are only dispensable lackeys. They are the products of a sick society wherein the poor and needy have been relegated to the ranks of extraneous, dependent waifs who grow up learning to fend for themselves and survive under the harshest of social, physical and psychological environments.

Angry and hardened by a society that effectively abandoned them, they can't think too far beyond the present. They have witnessed and experienced so much suffering and horror that nothing is too macabre for them, and no life is sacred. They exist deep within their own 'here and now' world.

Time and time again, we have seen where best friends grow up together, eat, drink, and play together, then kill each other over trivialities.

People with that kind of mentality are incapable of seeing the big picture. They only see a few feet beyond the muzzle of the gun they carry. They don't readily fathom the extreme pain and suffering that their trigger fingers cause. They don't readily see the bigger effects of their crimes - the nationwide fear, the damage to the image of Jamaica, and the severe economic losses from obligatory medical care of the victims of violence, from the lack of business investments in our violent society, from the loss of potential tourists, and from Jamaicans overseas who decide not to return out of fear for their safety and lives.




From the Government's perspective, there are plans for significant social intervention while policing continues. There needs to be more immediate and direct engagement and involvement of the idle youth. They should be approached outside the realm of politics or the area leaders/dons. They need to be handed control over their own lives.

I am in two minds about the coming National Identification System (NIDS). I have nothing to hide, so I really don't care. However, it does appear to be over-encompassing, and I wonder who exactly will access my personal and biometric data and under what circumstances.

I know that NIDS is supposed to facilitate some transactions. However, it should also be used to easily identify the unemployed or underemployed youth so that they can be brought into training and employment programmes.

I believe that most people think that NIDS will primarily be used to track individuals and to scope out criminals. However, there should be concomitant commitment strategies to put NIDS to positive uses. This ought to be publicised so that citizens will not only see it as purely oppressive.

Besides society's need to seek out solutions for our high rate of criminality, thugs need to figure out solutions for their problems, too. They need to realise that the gun is not a solution for any of their problems. They need to start avoiding situations that can lead to problems.

As a philosopher once said, "Smart people solve problems, wise people avoid them." Trigger boys are neither smart nor wise. They are violent automatons.

The trigger boys need to know that no government will indefinitely allow them to shoot and kill as they please. Sooner or later, the authorities will lay down the heavy boot of the law. It therefore behoves the trigger boys to think about and seek out alternative ways of reinventing themselves for survival before it's too late.

- Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to and