On Tuesday May 6, anti-arms trade activists returned to the offices of small arms manufacturer Heckler & Koch, Nottingham Small Arms Facility, Unit 3, Easter Park, Lenton Lane, Nottingham NG7 2PX (map). Campaigners met at Abbey Bridge before marching to the office where they staged a protest. A similar event had been held at the same location in July last year.
Despite remaining entirely peaceful, the protest was heavily policed and campaigners were graced by the presence of a team of Evidence Gatherers from Nottinghamsire Police alongside PC Ian Skivens (CO5494) from the Metropolitan's Forward Intelligence Team (FIT) and PC Paul Mather (4551) from Staffordshire Police.
Upcoming Event: Heckler & Koch Campaign Meeting, Tuesday May 13, 8pm at the Sumac Centre. See article for more info.
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Heckler & Koch (H&K) is the world’s second-largest manufacturer of handguns, assault rifles, submachine guns, machine guns and grenade launchers. The company's UK division, headquartered in Lenton, is responsible for the company’s "international customer sales."
Literally millions of H&K small arms are in use in over 90 countries. H&K machine guns are currently being used by notoriously trigger-happy corporate mercenaries Blackwater in Iraq and Afghanistan. The company has shipped guns from the UK to warzones such as Bosnia and Nepal, and has licensed its weapons for production by repressive regimes such as Turkey, Mexico, Thailand, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Burma.
Furthermore the company effectively evaded UK and EU export restrictions when these licensees sold H&K weapons on to conflict zones including Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Sierra Leone. Heckler & Koch may claim to no longer license weapons to some of these countries, but the tragedy continues to unfold. For example, Iran continued to produce and supply H&K rifles to war-torn Sudan after its license agreement expired.
Legal loopholes, brokers and gunrunners make it all too easy to evade arms embargoes, as comedian Mark Thomas demonstrated by arranging a shipment of German-made H&K submachine guns to Mugabe’s brutal regime in Zimbabwe (an escapade detailed in his book As Used on the Famous Nelson Mandela). Furthermore, small arms have a very long shelf life and older models are often resold to countries with poor human rights records. The H&K G3 rifle is still used by the often murderous armed forces of Angola, Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, and Nigeria. These examples illustrate the unethical and uncontrolled nature of the industry in which the company is proud to operate.
It is companies like H&K that make the guns that are smuggled into the UK to be used by gangsters, so it is ironic that the company sells guns to the British police (seen in action around Nottingham here and here). Sixty per cent of small arms end up in the hands of criminal gangs and civilians, prompting a lethal arms race between criminals and police in which the only winners are arms dealers such as Heckler & Koch. In a city that has become infamous for gun crime, it is obscene that this company is selling guns to customers around the world.
It is perhaps for these reasons that H&K does not advertise its presence in Nottingham. Its official address is a PO Box, its industrial unit is completely unsignposted, and unwanted callers are discouraged by rapid armed response from Nottinghamshire Police, acting as the company’s own security guards.
This has not deterred activists who have now held two demonstrations outside the facility and are to launch a campaign against the company's presence in Nottingham, taking inspiration from Smash EDO, a long-running and effective campaign against arms manufacturer EDO MBM in Brighton.