Gunning for peace, UK police style

August 16th, 2008 - 12:52 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Aug 16 (IANS) Mahatma Gandhi asked Indians to turn the other cheek to practice non-violence, but the UK police have gone a step further by giving machine guns to children in the quest for peace. The Daily Mail carries a photograph of a young boy holding a submachine gun across his chest, his fingers hovering over the trigger. The youngster got his hands on the Heckler & Koch MP5 quite legitimately - the police handed it to him at a summer fete.

They say such a stunt helps to raise awareness among children about the dangers of weapons. And they intend to repeat it elsewhere.

But MPs and anti-violence campaigners condemn it as a “foolish” initiative that will help only to “glamorise” guns.

The German-built 9mm weapon - which can fire at a rate of 800 rounds per minute - was on display at a community fair in Limehouse, East London. It was displayed by armed officers on a stall which also had a SWAT-style helmet, bullet-proof shield and body armour.

Dozens of children were allowed to pick up the deactivated submachine gun and wield it as friends and family took photographs.

The event was held less than a mile from where 36-year-old carer Curtis Smith was gunned down outside a nightclub in Tower Hamlets last month. He was shot three times by a weapon thought to be a submachine gun as he took a wheelchair-bound man for a night out on July 27.

Jim Fitzpatrick, Poplar and Canning Town Labour MP, says: “Giving-young children real guns is inappropriate. It could be glamorising the weapons and creating familiarity which is plainly wrong.”

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