Express & Star comment: Help us to stop madness of knife sales
Two-feet long, with jagged edges, sharpened steel and a serrated blade, there is little doubt that the so called ‘long reach machete’ is a fearsome weapon.
Anyone who has laid eyes on it in the offices of the Express & Star over the past few days has been rightly horrified.
The shock and revulsion people then feel when they are told that such weapons are on sale for less than £14 over the counter in our high street stores will undoubtedly be shared by tens of thousands of people reading our reports today.
Let us be clear, there can be no justifiable use for a weapon of this type.
If, as the sellers claim, its aim is to be used as some sort of ornament, then there would be no need for its edges to be so sharp, nor for it to be made from shining steel.
This newspaper, along with West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson, campaigned in 2016 to get the sale of so-called ‘zombie’ knives banned.
Together we were successful in that aim, and products with names such as ‘Head Splitter’ and ‘Death Dagger’ were removed from sale.
However, with depressing predictability the peddlers of such despicable items found a way around the ban.
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By law, a weapon must carry ‘images or words suggesting it is used for violence’ in order to be classed as a ‘zombie’ knife.
By simply removing such slogans, vicious blades that are otherwise identical to the banned blades can be legally sold.
It is a wicked and cynical move to subvert the letter of the law - and it is working.
We understand that shops such as The Deal Maker need to make a profit in order to survive.
But they also have a wider responsibility to society in terms of public safety.
There can be no weasel words about the role they play in distributing these weapons.
One shop worker told an undercover E&S reporter that he had sold a whole shelf of lethal ‘Predator’ blades in just one day.
These weapons may well be entirely legal, but at a time of rising crime levels – where knife crime is of particular concern – their actions smack of gross irresponsibility.
Politicians, grieving families and campaigners have been rightly outraged by the fact that these weapons are so readily available.
A cursory age check and an unverified request for an address does not equate to taking public safety seriously.
The madness of the situation is that while shops are free to sell the knives in question, as soon as a buyer steps out onto the street they can be arrested for possession of an offensive weapon.
The law of this land is littered with such loopholes, and this is one that needs closing as soon as possible.
We should not be waiting for another life to be lost before action is taken.
Up to now, this Government has failed spectacularly on law and order.
But there is still time for change.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid needs to understand the misery that knife crime is bringing to Britain’s streets.
We ask that readers please take 30 seconds out of their day to sign our online petition to Mr Javid, calling on him to tighten the controls around knife laws. The link is on our website, www.expressandstar.com
This year we have seen eight people stabbed to death in the West Midlands as knife crime reaches unprecedented levels.
We must all do everything we can to get these deadly weapons off our streets – before another life is lost.