|Bell defends decision to carry gun|
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: Jun 07, 2012
Minister of State for National Security Keith Bell said yesterday he does not understand why anyone would criticize his decision and that of National Security Minister Dr. Bernard Nottage to carry guns.
Bell confirmed to The Nassau Guardian on Tuesday that both he and Nottage are personally armed.
He also pointed out that both he and Nottage have been trained to use firearms.
Former Minister of National Security Tommy Turnquest said at a press conference on Tuesday that he never carried a firearm when he was minister and questioned why Bell would.
However, Bell said, “If the former minister of national security didn’t carry a firearm then he ought to be asking himself, ‘Was he doing anything at all?’ Did he make the decisions that the country needed him to make which could have perhaps kept this crime under control’; not whether or not Keith Bell carries a firearm.
“I can tell Bahamians today that if I am moving around, whether I am armed or not, and I see a Bahamian in distress, Keith Bell will come to assist you.”
There were mixed views from Bahamians yesterday over the ministers’ decision to be armed.
“I really don’t see the relevance of him (Bell) carrying a handgun if he travels with bodyguards who are armed,” said taxi driver Neville Toote.
“Once you start doing that then quite a number of other persons feel now that they should be authorized to carry guns.”
Rupert Musgrove, a road worker, disagreed.
“They should carry a handgun to protect themselves,” Musgrove said. “Yes. It’s right. The way the town [is] carrying on right now, I believe it’s right to have your personal handgun.”
Some Bahamians even asked if they could apply to carry firearms.
Bell noted, “Anyone who wishes to carry a firearm in this country has the right to make an application to the Royal Bahamas Police Force. The commissioner of police is the firearm-issuing officer. Vetting will be done and a decision will be made by the commissioner of police whether or not you should be carrying a firearm.”
When asked if all ministers should be armed, he said firearms should not be issued lightly.
“The question or decision as to whether or not who gets one is not arbitrarily given,” said Bell, a former senior police officer. “An assessment is done and based on that assessment the commissioner of police will make that decision.”