Friday, 8 August 2008

Councillor Kalashnikov

The Story broke yesterday about a Glasgow SNP Councillor taking his kids (one of whom was 5 years old) to Pakistan and letting them fire an AK47. You can read the whole thing here. Video footage of it is also on the net too.

Other bloggers have already commented on it, and Jeff over at SNP Tactical Voting states that it "does not help that Councillor Hanif is himself an ethnic minority that the ignorants amongst us associate all too readily with terrorist activity."

It's an interesting, and very valid point. My own concern however is not Councillor Hanif's ethnicity, it is his choice of weapon - the AK47, and his decision to let his kids fire it.

The AK47 is probably the most easily recognised gun in the world, its certainly the most popular. It's also the weapon of choice for just about any despot and terrorist of any denomination you care to mention.

It has a magazine of 30 rounds and a killing range of 1,350 metres. It is cheap, easy to produce, works well in some of the most extreme conditions and it also has good accuracy. I handled a couple of them when I was in the army and they are quite light too.

The Herald reports "There are believed to be hundreds of thousands of hand-crafted home-made AK-47s in the region, almost all reverse engineered from the assault rifles produced for Warsaw Pact armies half a century ago."

This is a rather telling statement. Making a gun is no easy task and requires high quality material and equipment with a high degree of precision. There are any number of examples of people killing and maiming themselves through the use of home made guns or modified de-activated weapons that fire real ammunition.

Firing a weapon like this is something that wouldn't even cross my mind, and if I had kids, I certainly wouldn't put one in their hands either.

In my view, this was an appallingly stupid and unsafe thing to do and demonstrates a shocking lack of judgement. Given the nature of the weapon, I certainly wouldn't consider it to be the equivalent of a clay pigeon shoot (which, incidentally, I wouldn't let a five year old do either).

The SNP have already suspended Cllr Hanif, and it will be interesting to see what further action they will take.


Jeff said...

hi Jim,

I think you may be the only one who has touched on why this may have been foolish in any way.

I don't have kids and as much as I would hope to be a groovy, out-there kind of Dad if I did, I don't think that would stretch to letting my 5 year old play with AK47s.

That said, Mr Haniv had a 5 year old daughter, he was holding an AK47. Does that necessarily mean the 5 year old was holding and firing an AK47 on her own? It's so easy for any number of exaggerations to take place.

But still, a valid concern there.


Jim said...

Hi Jeff,

I take your point about exaggeration, and given the recoil of the AK47, I thought it unlikely the 5 year old would have fired it, however the Evening Times describes the video footage and states:

"Mr Hanif's youngest daughter Sana, just five at the time, is seen being helped to fire the gun."

It will be interesting to see how this story unfolds.