Thursday, 11 September 2008
Damians Law update
It's A Law That Will Save Lives
Sep 10 2008
JOHN Muir's son, Damian, was stabbed to death last year by a thug out on bail for another knife offence.
He was stabbed eight times in a vicious, sustained and unprovoked street attack.
The senseless killing has shattered a whole family.
But yesterday John, 69, put aside his grief to speak passionately at the Scottish parliament about a law that could spare other families the same pain.
In a moving, eloquent speech he called on MSPs to back proposals for Damian's Law - automatic jail for all knife crime, including carrying a deadly weapon.
Flanked by Damian's brother and sisters, he said thousands of young men carried knives as casually as most of us carry mobile phones.
And every time they did, they went out equipped to kill.
Support for Damian's Law is growing. And the Muirs' dignified campaign will only add to the calls for an effective response to the growing menace posed by Scotland's blades culture.
So far, more than 15,000 people have signed a petition.
Senior Labour MSPs have thrown their weight behind behind the campaign.
Scots QC Paul McBride has backed it, too. He is convinced the threat of jail will deter young men from leaving home with a lethal weapon.
Public alarm and expert opinion should not be ignored. It is time for politicians on all sides to get behind Damian's Law.
Because one thing is certain - we need action to end the tide of killings.
Scotland has one of the highest murder rates in Europe.
And blades are the most common murder weapon by far, used in about half of killings.
In the last 10 years, 524 lives have been claimed by knife-wielding thugs in Scotland. And scores more victims have been maimed for life.
Everyone agrees something must be done.
But if the government's reluctance to back automatic jail terms for knife crime is based on their desire to reduce the numbers in Scots prisons, that is not acceptable.
Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill has his priorities back to front if he is ducking a chance to curb knife crime for the sake of artificial prison targets.
Holyrood's petitions committee will now conduct an inquiry.
And if the evidence suggests that Damian's Law would deter knife thugs,it should go on the statute book.
The Daily Record On line (here)