After School Arms Club

After School Arms ClubMark Thomas puts the arms trade under the spotlight in this special edition of Dispatches, asking how easy it is to broker arms. Working his way through a spider's web of vast and, in some cases, archaic legislation, Thomas unearths a series of dangerous loopholes, inconsistencies and, even more shocking, simple omissions that would have the most avaricious arms broker salivating with glee.

The programme highlights the international trade route that runs from Eastern Europe to the Far East and the twists and turns that make it possible to broker equipment like thumb cuffs, wall cuffs and the particularly menacing sting stick (two-foot metals bars covered with sharp spikes) within the existing UK guidelines.

In his inimitable style, Thomas highlights the shocking impact of this trade route not just in war-torn countries like Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone, but also in our own backyard. But nothing prepares Thomas for the possibilities that open up when he discovers a neighbouring European country with no brokerage laws.

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Ratings: 6.00/10from 3 users.

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19 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Lockscombi

    Really Adam? Knives are just as deadly as a gun!? Let me give you a moment to think this incredibly hilarious statement over....

    Your either 1) Delusional , 2) Stupid , 3) Both 1 & 2

    Wake up redneck!

  2. Adam

    Alexandra Jane,
    It's obvious that you've never had any formal self-defense training. Any instructor worth his salt would point out that a knife is just as deadly, and sometimes even more deadly, than a gun.
    Knives are quick, easy to use, cannot jam, never need reloaded, etc. And frankly, most people wanting to commit crimes with firearms are simply lousy shots, whereas a knife takes absolutely no training or practice to be deadly with. That being said, I would MUCH rather be confronted by a man with a pistol than one with a knife.
    You may have your opinions on gun ownership, but please, for the sake of your own embarrassment, at least know what you're talking about before you state them publicly.

  3. John Smith

    Why does the UK, and Europe for that matter, delight in being such an enslaved people?

    At one time Europe ("The West") was the epitome of civilization and freedom. It is in the culture of all Europeans and their descendents to be a freedom loving people.

    However, now Europe (mainly the UK) is the epitome of restriction and loss of liberty. It is also the epitome of elitism and socialism.

    Hence, the UK and Europe now produce nothing of economic value for the most part.

    I find it hilarious to see UK citizens pondering about those "barbarians across the pond" in Amerika. As if these neo-feudal slaves are so progressive in their culture.

    I admit America has its problems as well but Europe and its socialism has many more.

    Fortunately, Europe is ahead of America in some regards such as the regulation of GMO foods. However, for the most part it is devolving as noted above.

    Here in the Constitutional Republic of the United States of America (not Democracy) we were endowed with the most important right which is the right to own and bear arms from our creator. This is for one simple reason: to act as a last resort against government tyranny. Because it is not only our right but our duty as citizens of this republic to overthrow the government when it becomes subservient to our interests (as it is now).

    Sadly, my brethren in Europe are now a disarmed and enslaved people.

    A people who the governments may have their way with at any time.

    Real American Patriots (not "Democrats" or "Republicans" or "Liberals" or "Neocon Conservatives") understand this fact and will never surrender their firearms.

    It is better to die on your feet as a free man then to live on your knees as slave.

    Sadly though, it appears most Europeans no longer understand this...............

    1. Alexandra Jane

      You honestly believe you are able to overthrow a government with handguns? Your government has WMD's so your constitution is outdated and pointless. Gun crime is rife in the USA since guns are so easy to get hold of. I'd rather face off someone that wields a knife over a gun anyday, at least then I have more of a chance to survive and fight back.

      We are not enslaved in the UK. And we certainly have it better here than you do in the USA. We have healthcare given to us no matter whether we are poor or rich. We have a good welfare system too. You get sick, disabled etc in this country, the government provides payments till you are better. You do not have to have health insurance or be well off to be treated.

  4. Gary V

    A very good documentary but I very much doubt that anything will change as long as there is money to be made selling instruments of torture & death. It is not just private arms dealers that we need to worry about, The US & UK governments are both guilty of giving ( Yes giving not selling ) arms the the same Afgans who are now using those weapons to kill our troops. Ironic isn't it? The same thing that happened in Vietnam & we all know how that ended don't we? All the members of the UN need to agree that NO Country or independent company or individuals should be allowed under International law to export arms of any description & these laws should be rigorously enforced. By selling these evil instruments of death the seller is as guilty as if they themselves had pulled the trigger.

  5. Jason

    As soon as it began and they showed the edited phone calls I knew it was propaganda. So they received quotes on tanks and pistols, something anyone can do. They put entirely too much effort into buying various cuffs and tasers and novelty sticks merely to make it seem like they were getting away with arms dealing. The intentions were well minded, but it showed quite clearly that they could not buy guns (even when offering to buy thousands at a time which companies would be eager to do), tanks (that call was a joke), and guess what no RPGs either (surprise). I could buy all and more of what they got legally within 50 miles at law enforcement supply shops. Cut one cuff off a pair of handcuffs and you have evil "wall cuffs" or "floor cuffs." One of the Irish girls said of the "sting stick" that since it was an object that could kill people then how was that object or any object that could kill people legal? Wow. She must not have ever played the game Clue, they have many household items that are used for murder. In fact I would think that rope, large metal candlesticks, a metal bar, or a giant wrench have caused more harm than items they purchased. Once again, they went in with good intentions but it was overshadowed by their ignorance toward most every item discussed.

  6. Wes

    Your hearts are in the right place but did you really think that these students would solve anything? Most of what these students imported is easily made in ones own home. Well, at least here in Canada it is. Instead of wasting time brokering deals in the UK I would have taught them about history. Almost anything can be made it a weapon! By simply going to the Goverment does not solve the problem. In fact Governing bodies and rulers have used weapons agains their own people for centuries, but you would know this if you studied history. Thanks for the documentary but I don't think it will accomplish any good in the whole scheme of things.

  7. Jonsey JOnes

    Am I the only one bothered by the fact that all this studies have been made complete exposing the girls , and I really could not believe they were actually exposed to the Israeli Arm Dealers. Is this for real ?
    Expose little girls to the international arms market and not even protect their identities ? Lets not forget granma...
    The documentary is very good , but I dont think they should have exposed the girls so much...

  8. Creatio-whaa!?

    First: The right to self-defense is a human right, right up there with freedom of expression, freedom of religion, equality before the law, etc.

    Second: Trying to ban guns is like trying to ban alcohol, prostitution, marijuana, cocaine, or gambling. If enough people WANT something, market forces will create a black market for it. If you make ownership and sale of an object or substance illegal, you are in effect handing control of entire industries over to criminal enterprises rather than law-abiding, tax-paying businessmen.

    Thirdly: For those well-intentioned but short-sighted and economically ignorant gun-controllers living in the USA, we have the 2nd Amendment, DC v. Heller, and McDonald v. Chicago, so your whining is a waste of breath. Guns are here to stay in America. As a law-abiding, responsible firearm owner, I'm glad you guys lost that fight.

    The people who claim that lawful civilian firearm ownership is the primary factor that keeps the arms trafficking industry alive are ignorant of basic economic facts and principles. They spend so much time complaining about the evil injustices of the free market that you don't bother to understand what the free market is or how it works. Who are the largest arms traffickers in the world? Street thugs down in Mexico? Russian mobsters in Eastern Europe? Al-Qaeda? Who sells the weapons that do the majority of killing of non-combatants across the world? Go ahead, Google it. The top 10 exporters of arms worldwide is a veritable who's who list of the world's "advanced," "civilized" Western nations, with the PRC and Israel thrown in. And here's a news flash: the 6.8 billion dollars' worth of arms that the US exported last year were NOT secondhand 9mm pistols from my local gun show.

    This line of reasoning is further invalidated because it fails to look at an even bigger picture. WHY do criminals and thugs over the boarder WANT guns? Because they need them to protect themselves while TRAFFICKING DRUGS!!! HELLO!?!?!?!? So a half-century of Draconian narcotics laws have done nothing but make drug criminals richer and richer and more and more violent. Lets enact Draconian arms legislation too! For the children! And when the prices of guns on the black market goes up, who reaps the profit? Your neighborhood gun shop owner (who has murdered zero people in his life, pays business taxes, and employs members of the community), or the drug cartels that are running rampant in Mexico's streets?

    1. Christopher Edmonds

      You sir, have nailed it.

  9. gothnate

    Anthony said, "People who believe the right to bear arms will in any way protect the individual and his property from the organised power of the state are delusional."

    I've only one question for you Anthony: Which is faster, a phone call, or a bullet?

    Fact 1: Kennesaw, Georgia has a law on the books requiring each head of household to own a firearm. It's not an enforced law, mind you, but in the 28 years since the law went into effect, murder rates in that town have dropped to zero while there was an increase in population (from 5,242 in 1981 to 28,189 in 2007). Kennesaw is, incidentally, a small community a mere 25 minutes from downtown Atlanta, Georgia which had a violent crime rate of 1,553.7 per 100,000 people in 2006.

    Fact 2: Switzerland has the lowest crime rate in the world despite there being a gun in nearly EVERY household due to their rules about civilian service.

    The last fact I'll leave you with is this: Gun laws only affect LAW ABIDING CITIZENS. A criminal, who will steal, murder, rape, or all of the above doesn't care about the law and there is NO reason they would obey any gun law.

    Furthermore, if the government are the only ones that have guns, who protects us from them if the need arises?

  10. Anthony

    People who believe the right to bear arms will in any way protect the individual and his property from the organised power of the state are delusional. It will however keep a billion dollar arms industry on the up and up. Once people associate guns with their identity as a culture your on to a winner, as far as an arms manufacturer is concerned. Feedback really is the manufacturers greatest asset.

  11. mad

    its so out of sync its like a chipmunk documentary about guns or something LOL

  12. Tyler

    Why can't people just be proud to admit that they wish for complete gun control by the federal government? Unfortunately for them, the United States has a pesky little thing called the Second Amendment - a right be bear arms, no ifs ands or buts about it.

    Fact: the most cruel dictators of the world enforced strict gun control laws: Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Kim Jong Il, Qaddafi, Mao Tse-Tung, Castro, Amin.

    Fact: cities with the most strict (arguably unconstitutional) gun control laws have the highest gun crime rates and highest general crime rates: Los Angeles, New York, and Washington DC. On the other hand, cities with lenient gun control laws have the lowest crime rates in the country.

  13. InedibleHulk

    While I'm not for facilitating torture, I can't imagine it's possible to restrict imports of all instruments of torture, since virtually every object in existence can be used as such. That sting stick looks like it could hurt, but no more than than many common kitchen appliances and garage tools in the wrong hands. A noble cause is presented, but the methods will do much better for ratings and views than for prisoners.

  14. wtf?

    2nd amendment, you got it backwards, The Chinese government used these "sting sticks" against the people of Tibet when they were peacefully protesting. And i suppose you believe it was the god given right of the Hutus to defend themselves with black market arms by killing a Million of their Tutsi Neighbors. Protecting one's self from ignorance is the most powerful weapon against you're government. You sir are the stupid one.

  15. 2nd amendment

    This doc is stupid, the people on the doc are stupid too. We should be able to protect ourselves with any weapon we want. protect ourselves from who? from the government themselves! I like it when the girl said the "pain" stick was used in Tibet, why do i like it? because she proves my point: it was used by the GOVERNMENT! and used against the people of TIBET BY THEIR GOVERNMENT!!

    1. ranii02

      LOL you're clearly american, with this false fear of the public that the media and your surroundings feed you. they don't live in tibet, or israel, or China. They live in the UK, where the govn't isnt perfect and police aren't perfect..but dont compare them to the gov'ts that launch grenades at the civilians. go run along with your 2nd amendment that the UK or even CANADA doesnt have.

  16. Hakima

    does anyone know what happened next? is the situation the same or has it changed? this is terrible. arms companies are criminals. why dont the govt get tough on this crime? coz they are corporate companies they get away with murder.