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Issuing of weapons is not something to be taken lightly - Martina Anderson MLA

19 October, 2009 - by Maeve McLaughlin

Supporting an amendment to a motion on personal protection weapons in the Assembly today Sinn Féin Policing Board Member, Martina Anderson said:

"While I recognise that there are many responsible gun users out there, the issuing of weapons is not something to be taken lightly.

"The Policing Board’s inquiry into domestic abuse which recommended that an application for a firearms certificate should be judged against the applicant’s past behaviour, including criminal convictions and breaches of non-molestation orders stated that ‘access to a firearm is a significant factor in any risk assessment’.

"But rather than heed warnings like that, the proposers of this motion seem to want to hand out weapons to all former RUC officers and British soldiers – regardless of their backgrounds.

"Whatever the reason, I think it’s disappointing that the proposers of this motion would rather ignore the reality of the situation and instead seek to prey on people’s fears, to paint a worst case scenario and reduce this issue to it’s lowest common denominator.
"How are we to move on as a society – to a shared and better future – when political representatives are stoking up such fears and tensions? When they insist that a weapon under the pillow is theirs by right?

"Now I’m not denying that there is a threat posed by some of these micro-groups. Indeed, in all likelihood they probably pose more of a threat to members of my community than they ever will to former members of the security forces.

"But the way to defeat these people is not to create another armed militia. It is to show that the political process works. It is to demonstrate that we can work together to pursue our political objectives peacefully and within a system founded on partnership and equality." ENDS

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