Jamaica
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Tommy Lee Sparta endorses Holness’ gun clampdown

Dancehall entertainer Tommy Lee Sparta, who is serving time in prison for illegal possession of firearm has endorsed the Andrew Holness-led government's crackdown on illegal firearms.

In a comment posted on his Instagram page, the Soul Reaper deejay urged gunslingers to "put up the gun them an mek we full joy life".

The post was made under a video clip in which Holness again raised concerns about the impact of illegal firearms on the country's crime rate.

"Gun can't fire itself. A buried gun is not a problem gun. A problem gun is the one that you have on you hip or in yuh hand," the prime minister said during his speech. Tommy Lee Sparta's account posted that although the deejay is not affiliated to any political party, Holness' speech was a fair one.

The artiste's post underscored the importance of forgiveness bringing the crime problem under control. He said that he has forgiven his enemies and urged his followers to do likewise. He reasoned that "it take more energy to hate [because] love is easier".

Tommy Lee Sparta was arrested in December 2020 after he was found with a firearm when a motor vehicle in which he was travelling was intercepted by members of the police's Specialised Operations Unit. He pleaded guilty in March 2021 and was sentenced to three years for possession of the illegal firearm, and two years for illegal possession of ammunition. The sentences are concurrent.

Contacted for comment on the social media post, well-known security expert Robert Finzi-Smith said he does not believe Tommy Lee Sparta has enough clout to convince gunslingers to change their ways.

"This is a good start and I know Tommy Lee means well, but he does not have the clout as like say a Vybz Kartel. Tommy Lee has affiliations with violence producers but that doesn't mean a lot of other violence producers are going to say 'Oh, Tommy said that so let's do that'. If Vbyz Kartel should get up and say that, then it's a different argument," he said.

"It a nice thought and verbalisation though, and if he had the clout of a Kartel it would mean something. But I am not certain if Tommy Lee has that amount of influence. But let's see where it goes from here," Finzi-Smith added.

Minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Information, Robert Nesta Morgan, said he welcomes everyone's input in the fight against crime.

"Crime is a big problem in our society and gun violence is one of the main issues. All Jamaicans, including those who have run afoul of the law and learnt a lesson, are important in the fight," Morgan said.

Jamaica's parliament has enacted a new Firearms Act that imposes strict punishment for gun-related offences. Under the new law, a person convicted of illegal possession of firearm will be imprisoned for a minimum of 15 years.

Jamaica has recorded 1,380 murders as at November 24, with an estimated 80 per cent of the homicides committed with the use of an illegal gun.