Why carry a weapon?
Feel the need to carry a weapon? Not only will you not win Citizen of the Year, youre potentially putting yourself in danger. Heres how to get yourself out of this mess.
Boring as it is, most of us don't live in a Godfather sequel. So why would you arm yourself with a weapon? Especially if it could be used against you.
Why carry a knife?
The most common reason is to feel safer. Which is ironic, because carrying a knife or other weapon can actually increase the likelihood of harm because it can be used against you. But you may feel threatened and want some sort of protection.
The police also say that many people carry a weapon around to help make them feel big, impress their mates, or may just like to whip one out to scare or harass someone.
James, 20, started carrying a knife after he was attacked. "I started carrying one after somebody jabbed me in the guts with a screw driver - thankfully it was a glancing blow, but it left a scar," he says. "I have a length of wood in my car now, simply because I've encountered road rage on a few occasions and I want to feel protected if a situation arises."
What's the danger of carrying a weapon?
"It's natural to believe carrying a weapon will make you safer," says Patrick Green at Victim Support Southwark. "In fact it increases the likelihood that you'll become a victim of crime."
If you do get yourself into a fix, and think "ahh, now's the time to get out The Knife', what if your attacker grabs it off you? And then uses it against you?
In an ideal world, no-one would ever hurt anyone, but people can and do. If you bring a weapon into the equation, you're making an already dangerous situation ten times more so. If the situation turns against you, wouldn't you rather be beaten up than stabbed or shot?
Then, of course, there's the legal aspect. You and your switchblade may wander the streets for years, never harming a fly, but if the police find it, it doesn't matter that you've never used it. The law is very harsh about carrying a weapon - you're looking at potential jail time, even if you've only used your blade to chop up vegetables for a chilli con carne.
How do I get rid of a knife or other weapon?
Unfortunately, handing in a weapon without landing yourself in trouble isn't particularly easy.
Waiting for a weapon amnesty - initiatives where police let you hand in weapons without any consequences - is probably the safest bet. If you look on your local police website, it should tell you if there's one going on.
If there isn't an amnesty, we can't guarantee you can hand in a weapon and not get arrested - especially if the weapon is a gun, or has been used in an attack. It would be best to ring your local station, using the non-emergency 101 number, and asking them what their policy is.
What should I do about feeling unsafe?
If you feel unsafe at school or in your local area, chances are it's because you're being bullied or threatened by people you know. The first thing to do is tell someone about the problem - whether it's a teacher at school or another trusted adult. If you don't think you can speak to anyone you know, you could try using TheSite.org's discussion boards to tell others about the problem and get advice, or contact Childline or cybermentors.
By telling someone about the problem, you'll stop feeling so alone and vulnerable.
If you find a weapon
If you find a knife, gun, or other weapon discarded somewhere, it's really important not to touch it and to call the police. The weapon could be loaded and dangerous, so it's best to get the police out ASAP to dispose of it safely.
The law is really strict on weapons, so even if you're just picking it up to take it to safety, you're at risk of being arrested for 'possession'.
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