From time to time life throws up small events that if left unconsidered simply dissolve into the haze, but when looked at closely reveal everything that one might need to know about an aspect of everyday life. In the case of Neil May and a disused Kent toilet, that particular aspect of everyday life was an application to convert the latter into a gun shop and what it revealed was a glorious combination of Nimby absurdity larded with mild hysteria demonstrating the way in which shooting and gun ownership causes otherwise unremarkable people to froth at the mouth.
The local heading up the opposition to the plan was the appropriately named Ray Leader who told local media: “We strongly believe that both the area and the building itself is not suitable for this usage due to the remote location and security of the building.” For good measure it was argued that: “The introduction of this gun shop greatly concerns residents for their safety.” Among those “concerns” being, “the proximity of weapons to licensed premises, which could lead to civil disorder”. And just for good measure it was argued that should the site be raided the potential for an easy escape offered by the adjacent A2 could not be overlooked.
The toilet in question was once part of the Red Lion pub in the village of Dunkirk. The pub is owned by Neil May who also owns Kent Gunsmiths and Mr May wishes to convert it for use as retail premises. We should not be surprised that when asked to consider the objections, no one on Dunkirk Parish council had the courage to shout out: “For Christ’s sake haven’t you lot got anything better to do? After all we live in an age where every piffling complaint has to be treated seriously for fear that someone’s feelings will be hurt and thereafter all concerned will find themselves buried under a Twitterslide of outrage.
Let’s start with that concern about security: a state of mind that could have easily been dismissed by pointing out that were one erecting a gun shop from scratch perhaps the most important aim of its design would be to construct something along the lines of a brick shithouse. Possibly a disused brick shithouse might fit the bill? And then there was the fear of the premises’ remote location making it a magnet for thieves, a fantasy slightly undermined when in the next breath it was suggested that having done the joint over the ne’er-do-wells could easily make their escape down the handily placed A2. Either the village is remote or it isn’t and in fact being 3 miles from Canterbury, it isn’t. Oh, and of course there was the now obligatory hint of virtue signalling in the concerns for public safety arising from the chance of disorder spilling over from the pub. The idea being one supposes that inebriated patrons would then burst onto the premises, arm themselves from the stock and rampage over the Kent countryside until brought to bay by the constabulary.
A little more use of the head in the form of modest research and a little less jerking of the knee in the shape of this tosh, would have revealed the all too obvious fact that the security of gun shops is second to none and that the safety of the public in this regard is to gun dealers paramount in a way that does not apply to any other type of retailing. Oh, and just for good measure the last case that we could find of civil disorder resulting in a gun shop being broken into took place in Liverpool in 1919. Wisely, the Council have given Mr May the go ahead.