Offensive Weapons Bill

Written evidence submitted by Raymond Mears, Founder and CEO, Woodlore Wilderness Bushcraft & Tracking (OWB88)

My experience in regards this submission is as follows:

- I have been involved in the outdoor education for thirty-five years, including the safe and responsible use of knives in wilderness travel. I have taught the general public and members of our armed forces.

- I have designed knives specifically suited to outdoor life.

- I have retailed knives through the internet for thirty years.

The following are my concerns regarding the proposed legislation.

1. The proposed legislation lumps together many different items under the title ‘offensive weapons’. None of these items are and of themselves offensive weapons, (with the exception of knives solely designed for such a purpose), most are simple tools which become weapons of offence when used in that way by criminals.

2. These tools see wide daily use without cause for alarm or any concern. The current rise in knife and other crime is limited to a small section of society. Who, were knives not available, would soon find some other item of hardware to use or modify to their criminal intent. A visit to Scotland Yard’s black museum will quickly demonstrate that the criminal fraternity have been modifying tools into weapons for as long as our police force has been in existence.

3. The proposed changes to laws regarding the purchase of these items through internet sales, will affect legitimate businesses who already comply with the existing legislation.

4. The current existing legislation is perfectly adequate if properly policed, which from my own experience would seem to be not the case. Any new law will also require policing.

5. Given that the criminals currently committing crimes with these items already have total disregard for existing laws it seems highly unlikely that any of the proposed changes will affect a reduction in the current crime wave. Indeed, it could have the reverse effect of providing greater perverse street credibility to such criminals.

I share the governments concern over the recent rise in stabbings and acid attacks and look forward to learning that the criminals currently using these tools to maim, and murder have been apprehended and will be brought before the courts to answer for their crimes.

However, I expect elected government to demonstrate wisdom in these matters. I fear that trying to disarm these criminals by this legislation will prove to be a futile effort. Given that history demonstrates that criminals can always find a weapon, the question which should be addressed is not where do they obtain them, but why do they do so? It would seem poor governance to cause a reduction in the civil liberties of the majority of British Society and damage law abiding businesses because of the actions of a few hoodlums. Instead greater efforts should be made to apprehend the criminals and most importantly to prevent youths from embarking on lives of crime, particularly in those locations where the social circumstances would seem to result in these crimes. It should be noted that each year many thousands of young people learn to use knives safely and without any cause for concern as part of outdoors education. A rewarding activity of immediate practical benefit which develops hand eye coordination, strength and most importantly a responsible attitude to life and citizenship.

I would be very happy to provide any advice and share my own experiences with any committee that so desires.

Yours sincerely

Ray Mears

July 2018

 

Prepared 23rd July 2018