Select Committee on Home Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by Justice for Shooters


  Justice for Shooters was formed to protest multiple Human Rights violations caused by the introduction of the Firearms Amendment Acts of 1997. On behalf of Justice for Shooters, I present an outline of our position concerning the prevailing firearms legislation in the United Kingdom and offer to provide more detailed information—should it be deemed appropriate by the Committee.

  When considering the introduction or amendment of legislation it is imperative that government ensures the measures are:

    —  effective for the stated purpose;

    —  proportionate to a demonstrable need; and

    —  protective of the rights of minorities.

  Justice for Shooters submit that the historical approach to firearms legislation in the UK has been to present a series of event driven measures without conducting a proper analysis of the real need or assessment of the full impact against the stated aim.

  In particular, the rationale for the 1997 firearms acts was on the pretext of public safety. Justice for Shooters fully endorse public safety as a legitimate reason for firearms control but contest that the 1997 acts do not achieve the stated aim. We contest that the 1997 Firearms Amendment Acts only succeeded in depriving a significant minority of innocent people of their Human Rights, sport, property and livelihoods. The UK Government is, as already acknowledged by senior Government Lawyers, to be in breach of the United Kingdom's obligations under the European Convention of Human Rights in this respect.

  Justice for Shooters legal challenge against the UK Government commenced in Strasbourg on 28 October 1997 and is based on the following articles of Convention Rights:

    —  Article 1 protocol 1;

    —  Articles 6, 8, 11, 13, 14, 17 and 18.

  The key breaches of the Convention are:

    —  an arbitrary discrimination against a law abiding minority of sportsmen and women with no recourse to a fair hearing or an effective remedy;

    —  a disproportionate interference in private lives;

    —  an arbitrary loss of rights without full and fair compensation;

    —  an arbitrary confiscation of property that was both disproportionate to the need and contrary to an overwhelming body of expert advice; and

    —  an unequal application of the law within the UK;

  The UK Government is already legally and morally bound, as Lord Williams of Mostyn QC has already confirmed in writing, by its existing obligations under the European Convention of Human Rights. The 1998 Human Rights Act will come into force on 2 October 2000 and will further obligate and compel the UK government, under domestic law, to act within the bounds of Convention rights.

  Therefore, any further changes to firearms legislation in the UK must address and respect Human Rights obligations with far more care. Preparation should now be made for the restoration of those rights illegally withdrawn by both the 1988 and 1997 Firearms Amendments Acts.

Richard J Hudson

Hon Secretary

20 September 1999

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