Offensive Weapons Bill

Written evidence submitted by Mike Devonport (OWB51)

Summary of Points

 

It is my belief that the proposed bill will impact negatively on legitimate purchase and use of bladed / pointed items without any evidence of significant impact on the misuse as offensive weapons.

In particular screwdrivers and knives are common household items which means any restrictions on sale intended to prevent misuse is utterly ineffective, as alternatives are so easily available.

Additionally, any restrictions on items which may appear menacing will not prevent misuse of another bladed item such as a kitchen knife in their place.

· In my personal situation this will have direct and immediate impact for legitimate uses in;

o Forestry

o Bushcraft

o Fishing

o A Practical & Outdoor Personality Profile

· In my personal situation this could have a direct future impact for legitimate uses in;

o Martial Arts

o Collecting

Personal Situation

 

I am 45 years of age and now work from home for the communications/IT industry, although this is personal submission and not on behalf of a company.

My personality profile is of an actively practical person ever since early days of scouting, who still spends much time outdoors both in public and private spaces.

I own a small woodland where I engage in small scale ‘personal’ forestry.

My main pastimes include bushcraft and camping, regularly in my own woods and other at other allowed locations.

Additional pastimes include fishing and Tai Chi (A non-combative martial art in practicing).

Explanation

 

1 Homeworking: I work from home and do not have access to an office. The current proposal would appear to completely prevent me from purchasing a bladed item online. I have a number of bladed item requirements, including specialist versions which can only realistically be purchased online.

2 Bill Effectiveness: Bladed items of any type or size, whether designed as weapons or not, can be used as weapons. Any person wishing to use a bladed item as a weapon has access easily available in any kitchen, garage or local shop. I simply do not believe and cannot find evidence to suggest that additional restrictions on bladed items based on size or type will have any effect on blades used as weapons, because alternatives will always be easily available. However, reasonable and legitimate purchase and use of bladed items would be further demonised and unreasonably curtailed. A public fear of an item is not a sufficient reason to restrict its legitimate use or purchase.

3 Forestry: I own a small woodland and have purchased a number of bladed items to help with small scale forestry. In particular the woodland is not accessible by vehicle, so for example we have found the most effective tools to deal with the overgrown bramble is a machete or billhook, as these can be easily carried to site on foot. Both buying and carrying to site of these types of items is in my view completely legitimate but would be seriously curtailed by this bill.

4 Bushcraft & Camping: These are hobbies and pastime enjoyed ever since being a scout in my teens, and involve knifes and axes of various types. They are not typically the type available from local shops and I would require them to be sent to a residential address. There is also a requirement to carry them to and from campsites, which may include other locations on route; such as restaurants, shops, parks or using public transport. This could even include educational grounds in order to pick-up or drop-off, or as a meeting point, and could involve under 18s or just adults; such as with any scouting activity.

5 Fishing: This is a common activity and involves the use of various types of knife, depending on the type of fishing. Some are specialist and typically only available online. There is also a requirement to carry them to and from the activity as per camping, which may include other locations on route.

6 Practical & Civic Mindedness: The scouting ‘be prepared’ that was drilled into me as a child has remained into adulthood, along with a ‘fix it now’ nature. I carry a plethora of small useful tools with me daily, from personal care through to maintenance / repair items. This includes a pocket knife and small screwdriver. These may be used in all number of varied ways, from simply opening packages to repairing a public toilet lock, even freeing a bird tangled in string or preparing food on the go. It is not possible to predict all the uses, but there are many people like myself who will frequently act in a civic and practical way in daily life so long as they have the necessary tool with them. The carrying of personal useful tools without predefined purpose does not appear to be clearly protected in the bill and is further complicated with the restrictions on educational locations; for example it would criminalise an adult picking up a child with these in their possession, any staff carrying them, an adult student at university, visiting libraries, etc.

7 Martial Arts: There is a long noble tradition in martial arts even if today they are mostly practiced for fitness of mind and body. Most martial arts at the advanced level will involve weaponry of some kind. It is legitimate that any individual would be able to follow their study of a martial art through its natural progression, including owning or using weapons during training in a private space. Personally I may never reach the advanced levels which includes weapon practice, however if my study were to take me here I would hope the law would accommodate this honourable activity and legitimate ownership of such items. The bill would appear to further restrict bladed items designed as weapons, even though alternative bladed options for the criminally minded will always be available.

8 Collecting: Many people collect and this activity can include bladed items; especially movie memorabilia which has artistic weapons as a feature. There does not appear to be any evidence that restricting bladed weapons sale and ownership would actually reduce bladed items being used as weapons, as alternatives are easily available. However, collecting memorabilia would be criminalised.

10 July 2018

 

Prepared 17th July 2018