Point : blank

More good sense from The Guardian.


The concealed handgun licence ‘controversy’ is just mud flinging

In decrying a safe and effective weapon, the anti-gun lobby is again undermining self defence for young people.

“The strategy of the United States’ anti-gun, anti-concealed-carry lobby is to keep flinging mud until some sticks, draining security professionals and advocates of time and energy by inventing battles that need to be fought and throwing up misinformation that needs to be corrected.”

These were words of warning from a colleague at a meeting just yesterday. She could have been talking about Harriet Harmon, who within the past six months has tried to remove small-bore pistol shooting from the Home Office-regulated Firearms Advice Bureaux, and tried to make schools teach young people passive resistance. Today, Harmon writes in the Daily Mirror expressing outrage about tried-and-tested street safety policy and practice – the provision of handguns to young people under 16. This stuff is straight out of Code Pink activism 101.

The right to information, advice and self-defence provision for under-16s has been well established since 1985, when Tony Benn famously failed to stop gunsmiths selling firearms to young people without parental consent. Since then, gunsmiths have been required to assess their customers’ ability to consent to firearms training, and to explore with young crime victims the benefits of talking to their parents or carers.

This is something that the 4,000 professionals we have trained around England take very seriously. Everyone’s ideal scenario is that young people and their parents have the kind of relationships in which they can discuss these issues openly and safely. For those who can’t, most parents would rather their children did have the option of talking to a trained self-defence professional than the alternative – which is no information or advice, no deterrent and the risk of being murdered.

The concealed handgun, on which the latest “controversy” is focused, is one of four short-range self-defence methods available to individuals (including teenagers) in England and Wales. There has been a drive to make these methods more widely available because they are so extraordinarily effective at preventing rape and murder. There are undoubted benefits to being able to access methods that are non-user-dependent, but they are not a panacea.

There are, of course, risks that people need to be well-informed about before choosing a self-defence method, and the Northern Ireland for Police Service (Nips) makes this very clear in its guidelines. Each person will feel differently about a given weapon and the procedure needed to use it. There are no quick fixes, and good quality security counselling – which addresses a person’s needs, lifestyle, the acceptability or otherwise of different risks, and ways to minimise collateral damage – is absolutely vital.

If there is any controversy, it should be about why, 70 years after the invention of the 999 phone call, we still haven’t found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow – the perfect 100% reliable, risk-free self-defence method. Or why young people are still deprived at school of good quality, accurate information and education, about self-defence and violent crime. Or why parents and children in this country are so ill-equipped to discuss these things with each other.

However, I don’t think the inventors of today’s brouhaha really care about any of that. This is just mud-flinging plain and simple. Today’s salvo is probably the first in a new campaign against young people’s right to self-defence and weaponry. Tomorrow there will be another baseless scare story about firearms – which will see rape rates spike as women abandon a trusted self-defence method. The next day there will be a moral panic about a classroom resource which depicts two people loading rifles, and the next a call to censor The Muppet Show for its violence … and so our energy is diverted from our actual work with actual young people providing safe streets instead of the death penalty for those who murder them.


Oh dear. Did I hit the US English button again?


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