This is a rather boring post (not much about actual sword related training or fun); however it is quite important.
The UK government is consulting on the modification, and introduction of new legislation, for the existing offensive weapons laws. Consultation closes 9th December 2017.
On the face of it, this is great news. As we are responsible swords-persons, anything that keeps potential weapons out of the hands of those who wish to carry them (let alone use them) without due reason and lawful intent has got to be good…no news headline that involves a knife or sword attack EVER benefits our martial art.
However, even a cursory glance below the surface of the proposal indicates yawning gaps in definitions, inconsistencies and enhanced police powers that effectively criminalizes almost all HEMA practitioners, reenactors, historical/antique collectors, and chefs; not to mention making life hard for craft makers of historical reproductions. To have a proposal whereby the starting point is where you are in the wrong seems to be a crazy idea.
In fact, it is the opinion of the TLA committee that most knife crime us caused by kitchen knives or pen knives BACKED UP by independent research (http://www.kiyan.org/newsite/wp-content/uploads/ccjs_knife_report.pdf), which the government seems to ignore. So rather than legislating against specifics, a blanket and ill-defined bit of legislation has been drafted (with grammatical errors left in to see if you are paying attention)!
This study actually highlights the issue (p.28):
“Moreover, unlike guns, once a knife has been disposed of it merely takes a trip to the kitchen drawer to get another. As long as there is unsliced bread, opportunities for ‘knife crime’ will exist.”
So, not only can we thank sliced bread for the phrase “the best thing since sliced bread” we can also celebrate its pre-cut awesomeness for reducing violent knife-offences on the streets of our green and pleasant land. 😉
As you will see from the TLA response, one of our concerns is that there is still no definition of what a knife is, and whilst many people ‘know’- the lack of definition will capture all-sorts of other items…like swords.
We do not suggest that this is a model reply or letter, but we believe that when it comes to legislation, what is not said is just as important what is…hence the rather comprehensive answer.
Here are the links to the government consultation.
We have submitted our response to the home office, the Hon. Amber Rudd MP, and our local representative in parliament Rebecca Pow MP. We have also had a 20 minute meeting with Mrs Pow, the outcome of which was negligible due to the consultation being outside her remit (which is a shame).