Select Committee on Home Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by the Gun Trade Association Ltd


  We are responding to the invitation in your letter HAC 1998-99—349 dated 16 August 1999 to set out our views on your Inquiry into the above.

  We realise that you will receive many submissions on this subject so, in an effort to be helpful, our immediate response will be as brief as possible.

  Much consideration has been given by our Council and our members to the principal questions the Committee wishes to address. In all honesty, we believe that the present Firearms Law covered by the 1968 and subsequent Amendment Acts, up to and including the Firearms (Amendment) Acts 1997, and the Firearms Rules 1998, are adequate and—when properly applied—give the public the protection they need and deserve.

  Lawful possession of firearms, shot guns and air guns, are not the problem. It is the criminal and illegal possession and use of them which endangers the public. Tightening the Law still further will not prevent nor curtail the use of firearms by criminals.

  This is perhaps best demonstrated by the fact that criminals continue to possess and frequently use handguns, despite handguns having been prohibited for sporting shooting by the 1997 Amendment Acts, and taken out of the possession of law-abiding citizens.

  We have seen no evidence whatsoever to suggest that the lawful possession and use in shooting sports poses any threat to public safety.

  In the UK we have some of the toughest firearms laws not only in Europe, but throughout the World.

  We work diligently with, and co-operate fully with the Home Office, ACPO, ACPO(S), Customs and Excise, DTI Export and Import Control and other authorities to ensure that the Law is properly and responsibly applied, and work together with them to ensure that any loopholes are closed.

  We are a constituent member of the British Shooting Sports Council (the "umbrella" organisation for shooting sports associations) and have been involved in the preparation of their more detailed submission, and fully support it.

  One further point we wish to make strongly is that shooting sports are followed by many who live in towns and inner cities. Such sportsmen go out into the countryside to participate in their chosen sport—as do fishermen, scramblers and many other sportsmen and women.

  We are prepared to expand further on any point we have made in this submission, should you so require, and to appear before the Committee to give oral evidence should you so wish.

  To summarise, we believe that the existing Firearms legislation, properly applied, is adequate.

Brian Carter

The Director

24 September 1999

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