Police are giving young children Heckler & Koch guns to handle at community events in England. At a recent summer fete in east London, the Met ran a stall displaying a H&K MP5 submachine gun. Children as young as seven were allowed to pose for photos holding the police weapon, which has a firing rate of 800 rounds per minute.
The stunt has been sharply criticised by MPs and anti-gun campaigners. MP Jim Fitzpatrick said “Giving young children real guns to handle is inappropriate. It could be glamorising the weapons and creating familiarity which is plainly wrong.”
George Galloway MP said “The foolish display at this festival can serve only to normalise firearms or make they appear attractive, even glamorous. We are tragically used to seeing images of primary school aged boys handling assault rifles in Liberia or Mogadishu, but in Limehouse?!”
Police defended the initiative, claiming that it is intended to “divert people away from gun crime”, but Lyn Costello, co-founder of Mothers Against Murder and Aggression, called it “a serious error of judgment.”
And it seems that this event was not a one-off: “We’ve done this kind of thing in other places” said Superintendent Tarrant of the Met’s CO19 firearms unit. “We will continue doing it in future.”