Soldiers and Firearms in Public

I was told a tale the other night of a soldier chinstrapped after an exercise on Catterick dropping into BurgerKing/McDonalds/whatever for a bite to eat, unfortunately he still had his sa80 strapped accross his back and some concerned local called out the police, who sent along the ARV and the rest. Things were understandably a bit sticky but situation was resolved without a dead squaddy. Question is other than common sense and arranging for the weapons to be left with a guard(s) are there any guidelines/regulations for the soldier about town with his personal weapon? I know we're exempt from Firarms act with regards to service weapons and being on duty.

Has anyone else been at the wrong end of an AR team in the course of their duty?
Someone should tell the public that some soldiers carry guns.

Fcukwitted civvy.
Never was a problem in the past,

Was on an EnE excercise in Catterick...

we were dropped off in pairs with belt kit and gat and another pair met with us.... i had the clever idea of holding up in an old quary tucked into a crag, he had a hot meal, slept for the first time in weeks and then at last light we headed out - well as luck would have it we came across a pub and as we were a little thirsty we went in.

Covered in cam paint, mud and other crap complete with rifles, none of the locals batted an eyelid.

have we suddenly become paranoid?

We were never allowed to take weapons into cafes, McDonald's etc. We always had to leave them in the vehicles with a guard. I do agree that the civvy in question is a bit of a f*ckwit though. Why are some of them such total donuts? :-s
Back in the olden days of the 1980s we used to go out the back gate of camp across the road and into the Sparky bank.

With SLR/SMG or whatever we happened to be training with on that day.

No one worried about it and the bank staff were totally relaxed about it all.

Of course when some fcukwit held up a different bank with a 9mm whilst wearing full 3 Romeo the situation changed somewhat and we were banned from carrying them outside camp for ever more (except on ex).

When I think about it now it is quite amazing that 20 odd blokes all armed to the teeth could wander into a bank and no one batted an eyelid.


On any day of the week you can see armed police patrolling Gatwick airport and on their brakes they can be seen in McDonalds along with their weapons.
No one minds.

Maybe I’ll call the police next time I see gats in Gatwick… oh wait :?
Oh christ, I was driving past this place called Sailsbury Plain the other day and there were people with guns and also some tanks and stuff like that. Do you think its some form of terrorist trainig cell and who should I tell about it?
Had the same thing a few years back with an SPSI at a TA unit (D'oh, where else would an SPSI be?.....) who did the same after a Trg Weekend - wandered off down the bank to get some cash from the hole in the wall, entered his pin and was told to get on the deck and pray that the nice man with the HK didnt slot him. Again, all was sorted out but he did have to attend a compulsory 'coffee moring with the Bde Comd, naturally, without the coffee element.........

There are so many walts out there, some of 'em genuinely dangerous with it, that the average civvy, given the current world climate of fear over terrorism, just flips when faced with a bloke with a gun, and I suppose, the police just cant take any chances anymore.....

We had just finished an exersize once and on the way back to camp we all (a lorry load) went into a British Legion club and asked the barman to put the weapons in his lock up behind the bar. We had a great time.
F*ckwit civvies i can understand, but surely the Armed Response Unit should be required to assess the situation - and when confronted by a few squaddies obviously on exercise, complete with veh in car park, they should tone down their resonse accordingly. If not, they truly become SWANT (Special Weapons and NO tactics!) Viz characters.

Imagine if every soldier overreacted when patrlling in Basra or NI, when we used to.
I was in a West Country TA unit once, and we would routinely rock up to a pub at the end of a trg w/e, put the SMGs over our backs and have a pint. Nobody batted an eyelid.

FFS, go to the service station on the M4: lots of bill oddies with gats. Not all the time, but it does happen and I don't see people making a fuss.

Having said that there have been a few incidents where off-duty soldiers have committed offences with their service weapons so I can see why occasionally people might overreact.

Gents, the army "footprint" is getting smaller; the TA is becoming an ersatz regular army reserve, not a link into local communities and people just aren't used to seeing soldiers unless it's on TV in Basra (etc).
What about the Capt who left the 9mm in Sainsburys? Media had a field day on that one.

Look, plain and simple, do not take wpns into public areas unless it is part of you duty (and, no, going for a Whopper isn't included). You are British military personnel, not part of some African militia. Have some pride in our Values and Standards and screw the nut.

Remember, it was only a few years ago that it was unacceptable for soldiers to walk downtown in C95 due to the security threat. None of us wants to go back to those days, so do everyone a favour and keep the wpns away from the public. It isn't asking much if one person stays in a veh and guards the wpns.
So let me see, IF I was a terrorist or a crim for that matter and I wanted to expand my armoury, all I would have to do is hang about in a motorway service station car park or in a maccy D's car park, wait for the lads to go in and leave a hapless (usually the spotty weak one) billy outside with the gats. I then wave my gat in his face and have it away with a sections worth of bang sticks. Brilliant.

Keep them with you at all times would be my advice, let the public whine, you are our armed forces, not some fcuking militia.

In some respect I agree with what you say. However, I think that the issue here needs more clarification. Does the sense of panic arise because Joe Civvy thinks that some Tom buying a Big Mac whilst carrying his weapon is a terrorist/armed robber/threat? Or is it because Joe Civvy does not fully appreciate that the Army routinely carry weapons as part of their job?

The public in general needs educating about our business, and I believe that being seen in public with weapons (occasionally) causes no harm. After all, weapons are our business. Weapon security goes without saying, be it on Sennybridge, in camp or on the person.

You quote Values and Standards. Unless you plan to shag some married civvy in McDonalds whilst carrying your weapon, your point is totally irrelevent to this argument.
I appreciate what you are saying about the public needing to know what we do but I put the incident about the Capt from Sainsburys in as an example. I feel though that for the sake of leaving wpns either guarded or back in barracks, it can stop a lot of potential problems (cure better than prevention?)

I doubt as well that Terry Taliban will be lurking in wait behind a Happy Meal ready to pounce on some Loggie, but the public can see wpns in a much more controlled environment on a weekly basis, through organised events such as county shows etc, where proper controls and risk assessments are carried out.

The risks outweigh the benefits on this issue. Ok, so values and standards was probably a bit heavy, but it does bring with it a marras of security concerns that would, if an incident occurs, cause embarassment to the unit concerned via the media, leading to a lowering of morale within a unit and no doubt a world of hurt for the individual concerned.
The sad thing is, it's not always Her Majesty's best who wear DPM, and Joseph Public doesn't know an SA 80 from his armpit. All he see's is a bloke dressed like Michael Ryan and something like a weapon strapped to his back.

Wanting to be a hero (but not wanting to be a hero enough to ask the bloke a simple question,) he prefers to slip outside, call the old bill and get the plaudits from his local rag. The old bill, from their point of view, probably react according to god knows what rule book, but to deviate from it when there are firearms involved would probably be the end of someone's career. The Plod's chapter on Common Sense and when to apply it, got revised out a few years ago now.

Totally agree with Biff though. It always struck me as strange to leave a couple of dozen SLRs and a few thousand rounds in the carpark of a Welsh pub guarded only by the newest and youngest trained soldier, while everyone else more experienced piled into the bar for a pint.
hurryupandwait said:
I appreciate what you are saying about the public needing to know what we do but I put the incident about the Capt from Sainsburys in as an example. I feel though that for the sake of leaving wpns either guarded or back in barracks, it can stop a lot of potential problems (cure better than prevention?)
Train hard, fight easy. Any soldier deployed onto non-steady state ops is responsible for carrying his weapon at all times. To encourage them to abdicate responsibility for personal weapon security is irresponsible to say the least.

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