News Americas, PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad, Thurs. July 6, 203: The Minority Leader In the United States House of Representatives, Hakeem Jeffries, Thursday sought to re-assure Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries that every effort is being made in Washington to curb the illegal trade of guns and ammunition to the Caribbean.
Hakeem Jeffries, the Minority Leader in the United States House of Representatives, led a delegation of lawmakers to Trinidad and Tobago to address the issue of illegal gun and ammunition trade to the Caribbean. The delegation, which included Greg Meeks, Yvette Clarke, and Steven Horsford, engaged in talks with Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley and emphasized the ongoing efforts of the Biden-Harris administration in the region.
During their discussions, the lawmakers recognized the shared history, neighborhood, and values between the United States and Trinidad and Tobago. They acknowledged the challenges posed by the proliferation of gun trafficking and the impact of gun violence, emphasizing that the majority of illegally trafficked weapons are manufactured and initially purchased in the United States. Jeffries highlighted the importance of finding a path forward to address this crisis while ensuring the energy and economic security of Trinidad and Tobago within a challenging geopolitical environment.
The delegation noted the progress made by the previous Congress in passing gun safety legislation and taking a stand against the influential gun lobby, the National Rifle Association (NRA). They discussed the bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which aims to make illegal gun trafficking and purchasing both within the United States and externally, including Trinidad and Tobago, federal crimes. This act will empower agencies such as the Department of Justice, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the FBI to more aggressively combat the influx of weapons into communities.
To enhance enforcement efforts, the lawmakers sought information on the methods used to illegally traffic guns into Trinidad and Tobago, including containers, ports of entry, shipping channels, and airplane flights. They expressed their commitment to working as good neighbors and leveraging the available resources, including support from the Department of Homeland Security, to crack down on gun trafficking and address the rise of gun violence in the Caribbean region. The delegation acknowledged the concerns raised by CARICOM leaders, with Prime Minister Rowley highlighting the significance of tackling this issue decisively.
The lawmakers recognized that the gun situation is a recurring topic brought forward by Prime Minister Rowley during his visits to the United States and discussions with Congress members and the administration. They stressed the importance of understanding the needs of the Caribbean people, who are now constituents living in the United States. The delegation concluded that addressing gun trafficking and violence is a shared responsibility, and they pledged to take the insights gained during their visit back to the United States to pursue effective solutions.
Overall, the visit of the US delegation to Trinidad and Tobago underscored the commitment of the United States to collaborate with CARICOM nations and prioritize the fight against gun trafficking and violence for the benefit of both regions.