David Grimason speaks out on the Arms Trade - Part two

In Part Two of our blog (see Part One), campaigner David Grimason tells us about the very personal motivation that keeps him focused. Nearly a decade ago, on 7 July 2003, David’s life was torn apart when his two-year-old son was killed. Alistair was shot by a stray bullet fired from a handgun when a fight broke out in a Turkish café.

Since then, David has dedicated his life to securing tougher controls on the deadly trade in handguns and other weapons. 

What do you say to people who have not been touched so personally and painfully by gun violence? 

Communicate on a personal level. I can communicate by giving them my own personal story because I’m a father who’s been affected by gun violence. You know, my son was shot by a man who was in possession of an illegal weapon, who had acquired an illegal weapon, and I finally suffered because of that.

Ultimately, my son suffered the greatest injustice, I suppose. He was two and a half years old and didn’t even know what a gun was and yet he suffered for that. 

How do you communicate the importance of a comprehensive Arms Trade Treaty?

I think it is easy to find examples given the problems that we have in the world at the moment, take Africa for instance. I visited Kenya along with Oxfam and saw the devastating effects that arms are having in the communities there. I mean communities who are not able to work together or build for the future because they’re living in fear and intimidation, as weapons travel easily across their borders. Weapons are flooding the black market because the arms trade is unregulated at the moment. 

So, there are a number of different countries that could be altered for the better and a number of different lives that could be saved if the right Arms Trade Treaty, could come in and take on the illegal arms trade. 

It would take a long time for the flow of weapons to slow down and stop them getting into the hands of people that are going to abuse them but I think over the long run that it could really change a lot of lives and save countless lives.

Can you tell me a little bit about your experience campaigning? Is there any particular moment that stands out for you?

I think there have been lots of ups and downs. I suppose travelling to the talks last year, and being involved was a big up moment for me but then at the end of it, 30 days later, there was a big down because of the disappointment on the last day. 

We thought we had secured a Treaty. Even on the morning of the last day, we had secured it and then it all just crumbled and that was a big disappointment. 

But I think one of the most powerful things for me campaigning since my son’s death has been the support of the public and the amount of support that the Control Arms campaign has had all over the world.

Particularly for me it has been really great to have so much support in the UK and it has been really great to see there are so many people concerned and watching to see if the world can create this Treaty that will make a difference to so many lives.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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