July 20, 2005

Bermuda limits machetes, the ‘weapon of choice’

HAMILTON, Bermuda (Reuters) - Bermuda's government passed a
law on Wednesday that would imprison people for at least three
years for carrying machetes and similar bladed weapons in
public to stem rising gang violence in the British territory.

Earlier this month, two girls were stabbed aboard a
pleasure cruiser as rival gangs fought after the boat was
hijacked and a knife was held to the captain's throat.

In an incident last year, gangs interrupted a soccer match
and fought with machetes, knives and swords before hundreds of
spectators, including some government ministers.

Attorney General Larry Mussenden, introducing the bill in
the Senate on Wednesday, said violent crime rose 13 percent
last year on the mid-Atlantic island, a tourist destination
with 62,000 residents and a booming international business

Police recently unveiled a haul of 75 such weapons seized
on Bermuda's streets over a four-month period.

"Machetes have become the weapon of choice," Mussenden

Those convicted of carrying such weapons without a lawful
reason could face up to five years in prison.

The bill was expected to get the governor's approval within
the next few days.